(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)
Trail #18 – Denver: Washington Park
Completed: 1/25/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Denver – Virginia Ave. & Downing St.
Distance: 2 miles (I ran extra and got in 3.25)
Difficulty: Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt on the outer trail and a mix of concrete, asphalt, and dirt inside around the lakes and fields
Exposure: Lots of shade from GIANT old trees!
It’s well known to people who know me that I hate driving. I hate driving in Denver even more. So when I needed to run an errand for work in Denver, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. The only trail in the book that is in Denver proper is Washington Park. Now, I’ve run here before, a handful of years back on a first date with a guy I met while trying out online dating. I remember making two full loops around the park (about 5 miles total) and thinking it was a lovely run. Coming back to this park, I can’t help but reflect on the terrible online dates I had back then, but also on how in-shape I was, being able to easily bust out 5 miles on a whim. The three plus miles I did this past week was pretty exhausting, but I digress.
Wash Park (what the locals call it) is a little bit of nature amidst the busy city. While you can still hear and smell the cars, there are giant old trees around every corner reminding you just how old Denver is. The trail encircles a few ponds, large fields, and tennis quarts. This is a super popular place for summer activities. Think volleyball, running (duh), kite flying, paddle boats, and more! A lot of races happen here as well.
-Lots of surfaces to choose from (hard packed dirt and concrete/asphalt)
-Can get a lot of miles in here depending on how many loops you want to do
-Can hear/smell/see cars
-Can get crowded especially on the weekends and in the summer
-Traffic around and to/from here can be a nightmare
-Limited amounts of “good” parking
-If you’re driving into the city, I’d visit during the week when there will be plenty of parking. Side street parking gets tricky.
-Depending on how many miles you’re trying to get, you can do the outermost loop (like I did) and then add some miles by going around the little ponds to create variation.
Although I’m still unsure as to whom this book would be intended for, I’m going on the assumption that people who live in Denver would buy this book to experience trails close to home (within 60 miles). I’m not sure this place needed to be included, not would I call it a “hike.” Sure, it’s a great city escape and lovely place to run for the locals, but I wouldn’t come back, driving 30 minutes, just to run here.