When I moved from Seattle to Las Vegas six years ago, I thought I would miss the color green. I didn’t. Southwestern sunsets over brown mountains totally fulfilled my ‘color’ requirement. But I did miss lakes, rivers, oceans, inlets, sounds, bays, and islands. Now in Denver, I’m still missing oceans and islands, but there are some aquatic features here to enjoy. Since it’s January and not exactly swimming season, the only thing to do with these rivers and lakes is to run around them. Here are a few I’ve explored:

Sloans Lake:
Much like Seattle’s Green Lake, this is a go-to spot for runners in need of a quick urban workout. A glance to the east of the lake reveals the Denver skyline. Swivel your head in the opposite direction for a view of the mountains. The path around Sloans Lake is paved and well used. The city clears off the path after a snow, for which I am grateful. I’m still a bit scared of slipping on ice. This fear seems to be rare. Other runners don’t even slow down when crossing sheets of the slippery stuff. My runner friend here made fun of me when I skipped our Wednesday night run due to the fact that it had recently snowed 12 inches and then froze. “You’ll have shoes on, right?” He asked, baffled. Obviously I’m going to have to figure out how to run in the snow, but maybe that can wait until next year.

Anyways, the non-icy path around Sloans Lake isn’t even two miles, but I’ve observed runners doing a few loops in order to get in a good workout. The area to the north of Sloan Lake is also nice to run around, and provides an uphill for training purposes and pretty house to run past for aesthetic purposes. This is currently my favorite run in Denver. Sloans Lake is west of Denver, on the northeast corner of Sheridan and 17th

Standley Lake:

This lake is way bigger than Sloans Lake, and despite three visits to the park, I’ve yet to run even halfway around the lake. It would take hours (well, it would take me hours anyways. Perhaps a Kenyan could do it in mere minutes). You can’t run all the way around the lake. The northwest corner is off-limits because it’s a bald eagle nesting area. There are tons of dirt and/or gravel trails around Standley Lake. It is much quieter here than Sloans Lake, in all three of my runs here I haven’t seen another soul – although there are always footprints and dog-paw prints to follow, so that’s comforting. Standley Lake is pretty close to the mountains, so the scenery is nice. During the summer, boating and fishing is permitted on Standley Lake, but swimming is not.

Standley Lake is a ways northwest of Denver, just east of Wadsworth and W 100th Ave in the city of Westminster. It’s actually an official “regional park,” which means that you can be charged to drive around the lake. To avoid the fee, park at 86th Parkway and Simms St or 100th Ave and Owens St, and walk (or bike) into the park for free.

The Platte River:

There are tons of nice places to enjoy a run along the Platte River in the Denver area, from Commons Park in LoDo to a long network of trails in Littleton. This morning I ran a seven mile race along the Platte in Littleton with the Rocky Mountain Road Runners club. It was freezing. Really, really freezing. One runner literally finished with two long icicles hanging off his baseball cap. The trail along the river was great. It was paved and mostly de-iced. There were tons of mile markers (permanent ones I mean, although there were also mile markers put up by the race coordinators – I hate it when races don’t have mile markers!) along the trail that also pointed out other trails and points of interest that were nearby. The Platte River is pretty low here, but is still fairly scenic for an urban river. Water cascades over rocks, there are sections of tiny rapids, and lots of geese hanging out.

There are tons of parking places around here to access the trail. I parked behind the Platte River Bar and Grill (cute restaurant: lodge-ish with wooden floors and walls of glass windows) at 5995 S. Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, CO.

Although I love my lake and river runs, I’d better get up into the mountains pretty soon. Downtown water-side runs tend to be very flat courses. I need to start hill training eventually!