Mile High Loop

View the Mile High Loop Map

Mile High Loop Inaugural WalkThe Mile High Loop was the brain-child of former City Park Alliance Board Member Paul Davis, and with the full support of the Alliance and the Department of Parks and Recreation his dream turned into reality in 2008.  The trail, fully completed during the summer of 2009, follows a full 5k (3.1 mile) route, and tracks along the city’s 5280 contour line- so you’re exercising at exactly a mile high!

In 2009-2010, City Park Alliance and the Department of Parks & Recreation raised funds and installed signage marking each kilometer, directions to stay on the path and a point where the path is 5280 feet high. City Park Alliance provided a trail assessment in 2015 and funded a trail renovation utilizing volunteers from the Starbucks Day of Work. The Alliance continues to support the Mile High Loop through trail assessment and funding renovations to the trail and the iconic trail markers.

Earth Day in City Park: Volunteers Got it Done

Denver Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the City Park Alliance and Starbucks, worked on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, restoring the Mile High Loop trail.

16624021573_211156571f_zCity Park Alliance provided the trail surface material and marked the portions of the trail most in need of repair.


Denver Parks and Recreation organized the day, provided equipment and supervised the work.


And Starbucks…


…provided over 400 volunteers!


The following organizations provided additional volunteers:

  • Buckley Air Force Base
  • University of Denver, Delta Lota chapter of Sigma Chi
  • Click Fox
  • Peak Beverage
  • U.S. Department of Justice

In addition to resurfacing the Mile High Loop trail, volunteers

  • Stained and added fibar to the Dustin Redd playground
  • Painted dumpsters, trash barrels, tables, and curbs
  • Assembled fishing rods
  • Made improvements at the greenhouse, rock garden, and mulch area behind the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Mile High Loop 2015 Trail Assessment

The City Park Alliance recently completed its 2015 assessment of the Mile High Loop. The 2015 assessment includes information on trail conditions and provides recommendations for repair and improvement. This report was submitted to Denver Parks and Recreation as part of a public-private partnership to maintain the Mile High Loop trail in City Park. The next actions for 2015 include completing a Memorandum of Agreement with Denver Parks and Recreation which details this public-private partnership and finalizing donations and the scope-of-work for the Starbucks Day of Work in City Park on April 22, 2015. City Park Alliance will be donating supplies to support the repair of the trail on this day. As the day approaches and all details are finalized, we will be sending out requests for volunteers. Mile High Loop 2015 Trail Condition and Assessment Report

City Park’s Mile High Loop – Update and Input
Trail closedFor over two years now, running the Mile High Loop 5K pedestrian trail in City Park has been a sort of test of frustration tolerance. Think positive: It’s a cross-training challenge: Run, stop, navigate around construction and trail damage, hurdle water-logged permanent potholes, do a mud run, stop and navigate again, keep running.

Construction at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which began in September 2011–and did not include a defined trail detour–has been the main obstacle. Like or dislike the way it’s been handled, that obstacle is about to loosen up and lower the frustration level for users of the Mile High Loop.

City Park Alliance board members Greg Davis and Mike Fernandez met with Denver Parks East District Field Superintendent Adam Smith on Friday, September 27, 2013, to review upcoming plans for the Mile High Loop pedestrian trail.

The park’s message to runners: Thanks for your marathon patience over these two-plus years; the good news: the finish line is in sight.

Temporary Measures

Current projections, according to Smith, are for the exterior work on the museum to be complete by the end of November. At that point, the original Mile High Loop pedestrian trail, with a minor variation, will reopen.

In the meantime, with completion of the new road and “lollipop” drive in the southeast corner of the park, trail users will be able to run a modified version of the loop again, thanks to a reopened portion of the trail and a temporary detour.

Temporary Route (subject to intermittent closures): Running the loop counter-clockwise and picking up the loop along 17th Ave. towards Colorado Bl.

  1. loop pathHead north on Colorado Bl. to a new cut-in just south of Montview Bl. and then over to the newly paved road. For the time being, this new road is open to pedestrians and bikes only–no cars.
  2. Take the sidewalk on the new road south towards 17th Ave. to the mouth of the new lollipop road. Please use caution crossing the confluence of the new and old roads here, as construction vehicles will continue to use the old road for museum access.
  3. Pick up the reopened trail with a right turn northwest back towards the west side of the museum, through the meadow.

The new museum addition is scheduled to open on February 14, 2014.  Once museum construction is complete, it will be possible to decommission and re-vegetate the former through-road at the southeast corner of the park.  At that point, the Mile High Loop will be fully restored to its original condition.

Trail Maintenance Versus Park Irrigation – City Park is Different

What makes the Mile High Loop a special pedestrian trail is the way it winds through, not around, most of the different spaces inside City Park. It does not follow a park periphery path. And that’s what makes it a special maintenance challenge for the park’s staff.

Anyone who uses similarly surfaced mixed-use trails in the Denver metro area, such as the High Line Canal trail and the Sand Creek Greenway, knows this irrigation-caused difference all too well.

muddy trailSmith acknowledges that the only solution is more trail maintenance.Unlike most other crusher fines surfaced pedestrian trails in the city’s parks, it’s impossible to avoid hitting the city park trail with those jets of reclaimed water. Not only does that mean the surface gets knocked off the trail, but soaked trails suffer a lot more damage than dry trails from routine and non-routine use.

Four months into his current position, supervising a parks district that includes City Park, Smith was eager to learn what sections of the trail are hardest hit. He also recognized that the trail is an important feature of the park. When you include race events, the park’s highest use is most likely by runners–day in and day out, all year long. It’s no coincidence that building the Mile High Loop has been good for the park–when those who live or work nearby see runners on the trail, it promotes recreation and announces that the park is a safe place.

What’s Next – Closing the Loop Again?

The city will remodel the pavilion parking lot to provide better parking service for events at the pavilion. The good news: it looks like this project will mean very little impact for everyday trail users. But, does it reflect an ongoing prioritization of funding and parks work assignments in favor of revenue generation events over recreation? Count on the folks at City Park Alliance to keep an eye out for the everyday taxpaying users of City Park and the Mile High Loop.

Your Turn

City Park Alliance wants your input. Please use the link below to complete a very brief poll related to the Mile High Loop.

  • Rate the current condition of the Mile High Loop Trail.
  • Rate how you think the park is handling construction-caused trail interruptions and other trail conditions.
  • How important is the Mile High Loop trail to you?
  • Questions or Comments for City Park or City Park Alliance?

City Park Alliance Quick Poll: Mile High Loop Trail


9 Responses to Mile High Loop

  1. The Loop idea was wonderful. Too bad that the City does not have the funds or staff to maintain the markers. there are many that are broken . The problem with “improvements” in City Park,aside from grass and trees and flowers is that the city does not maintain them and hardly maintains those. They just keep adding more new things that become victims of neglect.
    The museum looks like an ugly box store or left over building from the Stalin era. The museum and zoo could be located anywhere ( or parts of them). the precious open space in historic city park that provides much needed quiet (except when there are outrageous events) and connection to nature is a precious, limited resource.It can only be in open space unlike the zoo and museum.

    the museum now has so much space that they say they don’t even know what they are going to do with it. ???????? Why are they eating up the Park??? The zoo animals (3500 of them) are crammed into such small spaces that it is cruel. why did the zoo not move all or part of its collection when they had the chance to Stapleton where the animal would have had room to move and breathe.???
    We need some adults to get involved in the management of City Park, the zoo and the museum. I think the adolescents have been calling the shots.

    Bridget Walsh

  2. Jim Robinson says:

    Is the trail really open. How does it go from Colorado Blvd to the zoo area ?? Is there a current map. Thanks.

    • cityparkalliance says:

      Hi Jim. The trail does not go from Colorado Boulevard to the zoo area. The closest it gets to the zoo is on the western edge of the park. There is a map on this site. You have to scroll down a little bit. Navigation will be improved in the upcoming month, so that it’s more prominent.

  3. Dale Harmon says:

    I use the trail 4 or 5 times a week. I did my own survey of the loop and gave a copy of it to Adam Smith. There are about 7 ” steeple chase” areas that get muddy and several dozen other potholes and low spots. I estimate we would need 13 yards of crusher fines to fill these areas. Ainsworth Rock Sales sells crusher fines for $25.95 per ton. We would probably need 15 tons. I think they have a $60 delivery charge. We would probably need two deliveries. City Park groomed the trail yesterday and it made a big difference. But we still need to fill in the low areas. You can put me down for 4 or 5 tons.

  4. Mary Jo Cartoni says:

    Since it appeared that the DMNS construction may be complete enough to resume walking the City Park Loop, I thought I’d look into new route info and landed here. If/when it’s again usable, I would use the loop 5 days a week. Will take a look at the attached map. Thanks.

    • cityparkalliance says:

      The map is not 100% accurate due to a couple of very small changes associated with the museum construction. However the loop trail had been completely open for over a year now. Please enjoy this wonderful amenity in City Park

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