August 13, 2016
So Belinda and I set out to hike at Genesee Park off I-70. The 2,300 acre park was Denver’s first mountain park (1912) and is just a short jaunt along the highway west of the city. For the limited amount of time we had on Saturday, it was a perfect spot to explore. I had planned on connecting the Chavez Trail and Beaver Creek Trail to make a 3-4 mile loop. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the map with me and just typing Genesee Park into Google Maps didn’t get us to the correct location.
Upon exiting the highway, the sign pointed us to the left or the south side of I-70. I turned to Belinda and said, “That’s funny. I always thought the park was on the north side of the highway.” We later found out the trail we were searching for was on the other side of the highway, so we will have to try that out another time.
On the south side of the highway, however, we followed Genesee Mountain road that gradually wound around the mountain to a parking lot, picnic tables, bathrooms, and shelter. Several trails left from this area, none of which showed on the map we found online. In addition, we didn’t find a sign nearby with any description of the trails. It’s no wonder there was hardly so soul there on a Saturday morning, despite a lovely forest so close to downtown Denver.
We started at the Genesee Mountain Trailhead and then others split off from it. We had a choice to climb up to Genesee Peak or to keep following the Genesee Mountain Trail. We stuck with the Genesee Mountain Trail because it seemed like it was going to be flatter, and we were just out for a nice stroll with her dog Deacon in the beautiful weather.
Soon we reached the American Bison Trail. This time we followed it. We left the forest and ended up on a dirt road before we eventually reached a fenced area with the bison. I’ve seen them from a distance on I-70 in the past, but it was nice to get a good look up close. This park was home to the first buffalo and elk herds reestablished in 1914.
From the secured area, we turned up hill onto Genesee Mountain Trail again, and wandered through the woods once more. We ended up walking for about three hours, but if I had to guess we were slower than our usual 30 minute mile pace. We probably meandered five miles before returning to Denver.
I was pleasantly surprised by this area, because it was one of the few parks near the city that really made me feel like I was in the mountains. We hardly ever saw a view of buildings. It was all evergreens and pine needles. I vowed to come home and do more research on these trails. I still haven’t found a map for them. I’d like to know the distances because if I ever want to go for a short hike near Denver, I think I’d pick here! ETB