The Institute of Sociometry has facilitated the “pro-bono” incorporation of WEDUPT to assist the Denver Parks and Recreation Department in fulfilling their mission objectives – “To provide a creative, balanced, and integrated system of recreation facilities which are sensitive and responsive to diverse citizen needs – by mediating the unsanctioned use of Lakewood Gulch by urban campers, recreational day drinkers, and graffiti taggers. Furthermore, incorporation of the “Preserve” raises awareness of the threat that unsanctioned use habitat is under from increasing infrastructure development.
WEDUPT Trail Guide
South Platte to Decatur St.
The entrance to SECTION 1 is accessible at the south side of the light rail tracks spanning the South Platte River. Scramble up the rock embankment and enter the narrow canyon formed by the light rail tracks and the power station fence. There is a popular camping spot immediately upon entrance. If the camping spot is occupied, trail etiquette asks that you respect prior inhabitants and pass through quietly. Follow the only available path west keeping an eye on the trail to avoid human manure until the space opens up into a beginner graffiti tagging area. As you are trespassing in this area, look for Police, RTD, or construction workers prior to dashing either across the light rail bridge or into the parking lot to the left through the open gate. EXERCISE CAUTION: light rail operations will commence in Summer of 2013 at which point it is highly advisable to use the route through the parking lot.
Decatur St. to Knox Ct.
Section 2 begins on the right bank of Lakewood Creek adjacent to wading pools – advise children to watch for broken glass. The route proceeds between the creek and the elevated light rail tracks. Soon after leaving the wading pools the route enters a canyon that is impossible to climb out of during flash flooding. DO NOT enter this section if it is raining, raining to the west, or if there appears to be storm water entering the creek, instead take the paved and elevated Denver Parks sanctioned use trail on the south side of the creek. During dry weather proceed to the base of Dog Paradise Falls. Dog spa pools and “crawdad” hunting for children are popular activities in this area. Climb the rocks on the right bank of the falls and proceed along the elevated embankment adjacent to the light rail tracks. Prior to light rail construction there was an established camp spot on the stream bank. Due to continual heavy construction in the area and flash flooding this is not an advisable camping location, though it does make a nice picnic spot. Continue on the established trail to Knox Ct.. Habitat in this section of the gulch is Intermediate yet the housing projects off of Knox Ct. are Advanced – STAY ON THE TRAIL.
Knox Crt. to Perry St.
Habitat: Easiest | Terrain: Intermediate
Section 3 follows the space between the creek and the light rail to Perry St.. After passing the first of two Upper Dog Paradise Falls the trail enters an area impossible to escape in a flash flood. During flood danger return to Knox Ct.. Prior to light rail construction there was a heavily used camping area and dense grove of trees in this section. Removal of the campground highlights a general loss of habitat for unsanctioned use in the gulch. After passing the upper cascade, note the beaver pond and wetlands. Evidence of beaver gnawed trees can be found on the far bank. Proceed across the field between the light rail tracks and adjacent park to Perry St..
Perry St. to Sheridan Blvd.
Descend the concrete ramp at Pierce St. and proceed to an established campsite underneath the bridge. Cross the creek and climb to bank to an established footpath to begin Section 4. Proceed approx. 100 yards to a path down the bank to grove of trees. Light bivouacking is available in the inner gulch though long term camping is not recommended due to flash flooding. Cross the creek and proceed up the right bank on an established foot path until a washout opposite a left bank bivouac site forces the route out of the inner bank to an established footpath on the upper bank. Proceed to a grove of trees, tagged “420” and descend the bank again to the creek. Proceed up the stream bed through the Enchanted Forrest on a faint footpath, past an established camp in a dangerous flash flood area, to a safer camp site underneath a pedestrian bridge. From the bridge bushwhack up the right bank to a stream crossing adjacent to the elevating light rail. Stay between the light rail and the creek to the last overpass. There are numerous camping and picnicking opportunities in the dense foliage on the right bank. Cross the creek under the overpass and come out on the left side of the tracks and the right creek bank.
WEDUPT terminates at a cottonwood tree just down the bank from the Sheridan Blvd. light rail station. From the terminus, access the city grid by ascending an established footpath up the south side of the gulch to 10th St. and Sheridan Blvd. An unincorporated section of the gulch exists past Sheridan Blvd.. Though not part of WEDUPT, this area of eastern Lakewood provides many clandestine camping and picnicking areas not subject to Denver’s Urban Camping Ban.
A note on difficulty:
In this guide “Habitat” refers to the human element, “Terrain” refers to the natural element. Advanced Habitat should only be entered by experienced urban explorers prepared to encounter intoxicated hobos. Advanced Terrain should only be attempted by experienced, hikers prepared to get their feet wet and bushwhack through dense underbrush. At all times hikers and campers should be prepared to climb to safety during flood danger.
A note on etiquette:
Do not disturb established camps, it is not advisable to join picnic parties even if invited – deploy a respectful “just passing through” attitude. When camping please relieve yourself at available lavatories on the city grid.