|Denver and surrounding region|
Excerpted from Canine Colorado by Cindy Hirschfeld
For a city, Denver's not a bad place in which to be a dog. Lots of hotels and motels welcome four-legged travelers, and there's plenty to do out of doors. The mile-long 16th Street pedestrian mall in the heart of Denver's downtown is the perfect place for the urban dog to catch up on his people-watching. Chic dogs will want to stroll with their owners through Cherry Creek, the city's toniest shopping district. Or they might want to visit trendy LoDo, which includes Coors Field; though not allowed inside the baseball stadium, dogs can gaze longingly at the exterior and imagine all the balls that could be chased down inside.
As might be expected in a city that is home to an active population, it's not difficult to find a great selection of easily accessible hiking trails near Denver. To reach many of the trails that will allow you to enjoy a "less-developed" hiking experience, you and your dog will have to travel to the outskirts of the city and beyond. Denver and its surrounding communities, however, have an extensive network of paved bike paths and trails, often known as greenways, that your dog will enjoy exploring. Some extend for several miles, others for just a few blocks. For a "Parks and Recreation Facilities Map" that details all 210 city-maintained parks, contact the Denver Parks office at (303) 964-2500.
You'll find some of the best hiking opportunities in the Jefferson County Open Space parks. Not all of these parks, however, are necessarily suitable for dog hikes, due to heavy mountain-bike use. Of course, when the trails are snowy or especially muddy, you and your dog will encounter relative solitude in these parksjust make sure to bring a large towel for after-hiking paw and leg cleanup. Starting with Denver proper, here are eight great dog-friendly hiking destinations.
Denver dogs in the know come to "Wash Park" to participate in one of the city's best canine social scenes. The 154-acre park is also one of Denver's largest, with two small lakes, colorful flower gardens (one a duplicate of George Washington's gardens at Mount Vernon), an indoor recreation center, playground, lawn bowling court, soccer field, and lighted tennis courts. You and your dog have several strolling options: a 2.6-mile crushed-gravel trail goes around the park's outer edges, while a paved inner trail makes two loops within the park, each about a mile in length.
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