I wore rose colored sunglasses during my walk along the Platte River Trail from Frog Hollow Park to Confluence Park. Well, actually they were brown lenses, but everything looked much better than my photos.
As part of my Platte River Trail series, I’m walking 4 to 5 miles, out-and-back, along the river from just north of Riverside Cemetery all the way down to Chatfield. I’m exploring my made-up segments in no particular order. You may find the recording to my walk at AllTrails.
The Platte River Trail: North From Frog Hollow Park
Today, I began my walk from the 8th Ave. parking by Frog Hollow Park. There are about 12 parking spaces here, and I have not seen the lot full. After crossing the bridge, I headed downriver, north to Confluence Park where the Platte River and Cherry Creek merge together.
This 4.2 mile portion of the Platte River Trail, though still quiet, was busier than the other sections I have walked as it is closer to downtown Denver.
The path begins at a popular fishing spot. Today people were digging in the mud and dumping things into buckets. If I were in Maine, I would have said they were clamming. Perhaps they were panning for gold. They could probably use it with the recent destruction of the USA oil market.
Lakewood Dry Gulch Trail
Anyway, continuing north takes walkers past some industrial buildings and an electric plant before, the river and its surroundings turn more picturesque. About halfway down the Platte River Trail is an offshoot to Lakewood Dry Gulch Trail. This is a nice way to add variety to the walk. I may have to return to check it out.
Raices Brewing Company
Across the river from Lakewood Dry Gulch Trail is Raices Brewing Company. Raices is a Latino owned and operated brewery. It features craft beers, a rotating Latin American food selection, and cultural events. It strives to be a reference center for those wanting to learn more about the Latin culture. Raices has a great patio on the river. It would have been perfect for this gorgeous day.
Bronco Arch Bridge
I continued on, however, passing the Empower Stadium, home to the Denver Broncos and under the Bronco Arch Bridge. The Bronco Arch Bridge was constructed in 1952 foe $500,000. It was one of the most prominent features of Colorado’s first highway, the Valley Highway, as arched bridges were rarely used in Colorado.
The Valley Highway was absorbed by I-25 after Denver’s World War II boom. The bridge was designed for expansion and widened in 1961 and 1971. In the early, 2000’s, however, it could no longer support the traffic and was removed from service. Also known as the South Platte River Bridge, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
To the East of Empower Stadium and the Platte River is Auraria. The town of Auraria was founded in 1958 by some gold prospectors from Georgia. Today a Higher Education Center occupies much of the old townsite.
Though much of the townsite was destroyed in 1969 to build the Higher Education Center, the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission managed to save three churches, the Tivoli Brewery, and thirteen homes on 9th street.
I didn’t detour this area, but the Ninth Street Historic Park features these old homes. A block away from the park is the Emmanual Art Gallery, which is located in the oldest church in Denver. Originally built in 1876 for an Episcopalian congregation, it was purchased in 1903 by a Jewish community. Look for its Episcopalian gothic arched windows, a Hebrew inscription over the door, and the Jewish Star of David on the roof. I didn’t detour the mile to Auraria, but I might have to go exploring soon.
Further north, is Gate Crescent Park complete with a playground and convenient port-a-potty. There are not many bathrooms on the Platte River Trail, so I was happy to find this one. The park is located next to the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico, a good thing to know for those with kids.
In fact, there are many kid-oriented places in this area including the Downtown Aquarium and Elitch Gardens. Elitch Gardens opened in 1890 as a family zoo on 38th Ave and Tennyson Street and visiting it quickly became a Denver tradition.
Over time, Elitch Gardens expanded with elaborate gardens, roller coasters, and a theatre. Many famous actors played on the stage including the likes of Douglas Fairbanks and Grace Kelly. The theatre went dark in the 1980’s, but the rollercoasters still remain and are now operated by Six Flags.
The end of my walk took me to Confluence Park which is located right next to REI. The Starbucks at this REI is a popular meeting point among cyclists who ride the Platte River Trail. Also, at this junction, people may connect to the Cherry Creek Trail.
There is much to do on this portion of the Platte River Trail. It may be walked in less than 1.5 hours at a slow pace, or it would be easy to take a whole day to explore the area attractions. ETB
Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.