With each passing day the air is getting crisper, the leaves are flaunting their new colors, and we Mile Highers are enjoying these pleasant autumn days before the cold snap of winter comes. I often hear people grumble about feeling landlocked in our fair city, but those people must not be looking in the right places. Here are 10 waterfront spots around Denver that are simply sublime for sitting, strolling, reading, bird watching, or whatever tickles your outdoor fancy.
1. Lakes at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
This beautiful 15,000-acre wildlife refuge just eight miles north of the city boasts some truly serene waterfront trails leading to or around tranquil wetland habitats, which are home to migrating songbirds, wintering ducks and geese, and a variety of other birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Scenic waterfront strolls include the Lake Mary Loop Trail, Lake Ladora Loop Trail, Havana Ponds Trail, and the Rod and Gun Club Wildlife Blind.
2. Crown Hill Lake
One of the true hidden gems of the Jeffco Open Spaces is Crown Hill Lake and its namesake 242-acre surrounding park in Wheat Ridge. There's a 1.2-mile paved trail around the lake with plenty of benches for sitting, shady spots for fishing, and stunning views of the majestic Front Range.
3. Sloan's Lake
The nearby Sloan's Lake Park is another lovely urban oasis, which offers 177 acres of trails, fishing, boating, and more. It's an especially pleasant spot to take a sunset stroll with your pals and your pup.
4. Clear Creek
Meander along the Clear Creek Trail in Wheat Ridge and enjoy 6.5 miles of paved paths that travel through 300 acres of open space, with direct access to four parks (Creekside, Johnson, Anderson, and Prospect) and four nearby lakes (Prospect, Tabor, Bass, and West) along the way.
5. Lakes at Wash Park
The ever-popular 165-acre Wash Park boasts three serene waterfronts surrounded by trails, benches, and a wealth of waterfowl. Smith Lake, Grasmere Lake, and the Lilly Pond are just perfect for a fall day with a good book and a spot of tea.
6. Cherry Creek Reservoir
Whether you want to be active or simply enjoy a few hours of leisure, the Cherry Creek Reservoir is a splendid escape for wildlife watchers, nature lovers, and anyone else seeking rest and recreation just outside of the city.
7. Bear Creek
Tucked away in a beautiful canyon In the foothills of Jefferson County is Lair O' the Bear Park, one of the most family-friendly, easily accessible parks near the metro area. Enjoy picnicking, hiking, biking, strolling, fishing, or whatever your little heart desires at this haven along Bear Creek.
8. Chatfield Reservoir
With a 1,500-acre reservoir, creeks, ponds, and over 200 species of birds, Chatfield State Park in Littleton offers a plethora of options for wondrous waterfront bliss.
9. Ferril Lake
Take the short .9-mile loop around Ferril Lake at City Park or lounge in the sun on a picturesque bench and enjoy fantastic views of the city's skyline and the Rocky Mountains beyond.
10. Cherry Creek & South Platte River
Our beloved city originated here at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River back in 1858, when William Greeneberry Russell and his party began their search for gold. Today Confluence Park is a popular spot for picnickers, kayakers, loungers, and pretty much anyone looking for a bit of fun or respite.