Get to Know Your Greenway
By: J.J. Clark
SPREE Staff Writer
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Where Ninth Avenue crosses over the South Platte River, there is the tiny confluence of the South Platte River and Wier Gulch. The Wier Gulch trail passes through many parks on its way to the South Platte River, but one of the largest and most impressive of these parks is Belmar Park west of Denver at Wadsworth and Wier Gulch. In addition to having huge fields of wild prairie grasses, bushes, trees, and a vast lake, Belmar Park offers an amphitheater for summer events, an amazing library, many historically preserved buildings (kept by the Lakewood Heritage Society) and both paved and gravel trails for hiking and exploring.
The northwest end of the park is primarily occupied by the vast Kountze Lake and trails around the lake. A nice gulch flows from the lake down to Weir Gulch that has created small, moist habitats that are great for finding dragonfly’s, cattails, bees, flowers, and lots of other small water critters and plants. From the lake, you can see the amphitheater that is further down the valley. If you venture to the south east side of the park you will find the amphitheater, a 50’s style eatery, beauty shop, and a beautiful new walkway through the park. Once you finish your exploration, you can head to the northeast side of the park to the public library for some relaxation and reading.
This park is a great example of what can be done on the banks of even the smallest waterways. Wier Gulch passes through much of town without being noticed, but in this area, it has been embraced as a small, but central part of a vast and vibrant public and wild space. This park combines the modern urban desire for outdoor event space, with the much loved open space of Colorado’s prairies.
No matter whether you go north, south, east or west of the South Platte along a waterway, you are bound to see that Denver and the surrounding areas cherish their waterways, and that they use these waterways to create vibrant and natural open spaces for people from the city to experience.