Connect
To Top

Meet Trailblazer Chris Englert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Englert.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Chris. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The end of my successful corporate career was quickly coming to an end. Layoffs and restructuring were creeping my way, and I didn’t want to wait for the inevitable. I wanted to control my direction, but I didn’t know-how.

As I was literally sitting on my couch contemplating my exit strategy, I sidetracked. I opened up a map of Denver’s hiking trails and simply wondered where all the trails went. I was new to Denver at the time, and I had no idea where the trails went or why I would want to walk them.

But it was the next question that sparked the cottage industry that grew up from the first question. If I didn’t know where they went, who else didn’t, and who would want to know?

Thus, I started urban hiking and writing about it on my first blog which ultimately became DenverByFoot.com. Others became interested, too, and soon I was leading hikes along Denver’s urban trails, blogging about it, finding advertisers, getting asked to write books, and speaking at events.

Since that first hike that jumped off my map on my couch, I’ve now hiked all of Denver’s urban trails, visited every single Denver park, and walked through all 78 neighborhoods. I know Denver by foot, intimately. And there’s still more to discover!

Thus, my career that had started in higher ed publishing turned itself into its own writing and publishing niche. I’m now the go-to source for where to hike in Denver on its trails, in its parks, and through its neighborhoods.

Has it been a smooth road?
I had no idea I was starting a niche publishing industry when I went out on my first Denver hike. But by asking who else would want to know about my hikes, I found myself researching all the entities that advocate on behalf of Denver’s trails.

I made cold calls that weren’t returned.

I suggested ways to monetize the hikes that people flat out laughed at.

But when I finally got someone interested, and I took her out on a hike, we began to see the value of getting more people on trails and the grassroots advocacy it would create. That advocacy could lead to better numbers which would support better grants.

But like a trail, it wasn’t a straight line. And like a trail, boulders, tree roots, and snakes got in the way! But mostly, because I had a passion for getting outside, locally, without having to drive 90 minutes to a trailhead, people started to listen!

Sometimes when you have a passion, the way to monetize it isn’t clear. Read a lot. Google “how to monetize X” where X is your passion. See how other people have done it. There are kernels of education in every piece of bad and good advice. I heard lots of bad advice, even from the previous head of Denver’s tourism niche. Don’t let it detour you. Keep on fine-tuning, listening, and paying attention to how people respond to what you ask and what you say. They’re different.

Honestly, your gut will lead the way. Who knew I’d make money taking people on hikes? I did, but lots of people laughed at me at first.

We’d love to hear more about DenverByFoot.
While trying to figure out my new direction, I met with lots of leaders in Denver. One person told me that if you took the mountains away, Denver would just be another boring city next to a river. There would be nothing unique about it. Like St Louis or Kansas City. It’s the mountains that make Denver.

I didn’t agree.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Rockies, and I hike in them whenever I can. But like me, most people just want to get outside as often as they can, and they don’t have 60-90 minutes to load up the car, drive through traffic, find an overcrowded trailhead and park. They want a good outdoor experience close to their home.

It was this ah-ha moment that drove me to create DenverByFoot.com. I knew that the wild west history of Denver had a story to uncover and to tell via its parks, neighborhoods and trails. Granted, walking in Denver might not be as thrilling as doing an 8-mile hike to the top of a 14er, but most people aren’t fit enough or don’t have time enough to take on those challenges.

The “normal” Denverite, if there is one, just wants a good quality outdoor experience. In Denver, there are over 200 miles of trails, over 175 parks, and 78 neighborhoods in Denver alone. Like trails, trees, and views, these Denver assets can also spike curiosity, provide entertainment, and get people outdoors.

This is how DenverByFoot.com is different than every other hiking site out there about hiking in Denver. The others take you to the front range and beyond. My information keeps people right in Denver.

In honor of this “Denver Only” point of view, I’m starting a 30-Day Denver By Foot Challenge. People can sign up for a walking challenge that takes them to 30 different places in Denver over 30 days with the goal to get to know Denver. They can do it in 30 days or do it on their own time. Whatever works for them. The challenge is available at DenverByFoot.com.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
The outdoor industry is loaded with fit, male, 20-something adrenaline junkies. I love how they engage and activate their audiences, but those images don’t fit my audience. My audience is middle-aged, active and fit, and they aren’t interested in taking their ice picks out for sharpening. They just want a good, healthy, outdoor experience.

Trying to get attention for me and my audience in this male-dominated and young, outdoor industry world takes clever, well-written and focused information with good images of my audience doing what it loves. Lots of outdoor retailer brands want the former because it’s sexy and trendy, and they should be focusing on my audience, which is smart and loyal.

I work with a couple of brands that have figured this out. It’s thrilling. Slowly, I’m starting to see members of my audience wearing the gear I recommend. And I only recommend the gear that gets me and that I love. It shows.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chris Englert

Suggest a story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in