By: J.J. Clark
SPREE Staff Writer
Just downstream of the Downtown Denver Skate Park sits City of Cuernavaca Park. The Flour Mill Lofts stand between one of the park’s many open spaces and the railroad line that follows the Platte Valley for much of downtown. The South Platte River trail connects this renewed industrial residence to campgrounds in the foothills and hundreds of miles of urban recreation and adventure.
Several pedestrian bridges that resemble the iron train tresses over the Cherry Creek cross the South Platte River while rolling Kentucky Blue Grass hills and public stone sculptures offer themselves to picnickers. On the north side of the river there is an expansive field that can host soccer, frisbee, or a weekend get together. This field is adjacent to a substantial picnicking shade structure with views of downtown.
The city is omnipresent at the top of the steep riverbanks, but a short descent quiets the hum. Small dirt and stone trails lead off the concrete bike path and down to the water. This time of year the banks are full of sticks and debris left from the recent spring runoff. There is a meadow blooming with prairie grasses and shaded by newly leaved Cottonwood trees. The dirt paths by the river tuck beneath the pedestrian bridges and give a sense of solitude in the midst of coal trains, interstates, and condos.
On these dirt trails there is a sense of exploring something secret. Just a few steps off the trail, through the green seeds and stems of the native grasses, are signs of urban wilderness and undisturbed nature. Numerous trees have been reduced to stumps by beaver and huge logs appear to be aged by time and the weather.
The seeds of the Cottonwoods summon spring on the banks of the South Platte. Denver’s buildings pierce the blue sky as interstate commuters pass. At City of Cuernavaca Park, you can see Denver’s industrial rail lines, urban renewal, water recreation, urban wilderness and solitude, all in the shade of a Cottonwood tree and Denver’s unmistakable skyline.