Denver has gorgeous parkways. The Monaco Parkway has almost no trail but runs from 6th Avenue to 38th Avenue. The Sixth Avenue Parkway runs from Monaco to Colorado then continues down Seventh Avenue. And the Seventeenth Avenue Parkway runs from Colorado to Monaco.
I have always wanted to run these parkways. I've been enchanted with the idea that, right there, in the middle of the road, you could get an outdoor, natural experience. The parkways are well maintained and a little slice of wilderness.
A few weekends ago, we went out to run the 17th Avenue Parkway. The Parkway has a very thin path, so I mostly ran across the grass. Because I am more familiar with Seventeenth Street than running, I watched the streets go by - two for each letter of the alphabet. Between the grass and the slight incline, the run was challenging.
Running along the parkway also brought up situations I didn't expect. We ran into (literally) a family with little kids. We found a stray dog. We found a hysterical woman begging someone on her cell phone to bring her a bag for her dog's poop. (We gave her one.) More disconcerting, we could smell the pancakes and bacon cooking in the mansions along the parkway. At one point, it was all we could do not to knock on the door and ask for breakfast! ;)
While the parkway may be 'like' nature, it's surrounded by city life, city people and city problems. (Denver's enforced curfew keeps the homeless out the parkways.)
View 17th Avenue Parkway in a larger map
Difficulty: Moderate - mostly grass path with incline from Colorado to Monaco; watch for ankle turning tree roots.
Best place to park: Museum of Nature and Science road
Best season: Anytime it's dry - winter, summer, fall. It's a mud pit when wet.