One of my favorite parks to visit is Golden Ponds in Longmont, CO. Like many other parks along the Front Range, Golden Ponds used to be a gravel mining site until it was donated to the City of Longmont by its previous owner Vernon Golden. It was dedicated as a district park in 1990. Today, it plays host to a number of animals, especially waterfowl such as Canada geese and mallard ducks. In the summer, osprey can be seen fishing in the park’s 4 ponds.
Golden Ponds is deceptively small-looking, but actually encompasses 88 acres. The trail that loops around the ponds also takes you past St. Vrain Creek and a beautiful waterfall. Linger there as long as you wish. It’s a favorite area for kids and families alike. Continuing on over a footbridge, you’ll link up with the western end of the St. Vrain Greenway, a scenic trail that runs east to west through the city of Longmont. It’s a fantastic walk on a beautiful day with amazing views of the mountains, including Longs Peak, the highest point in Boulder County.
While most mammals are pretty scarce during the day when the park is busy (and it’s definitely a busy park!) this past fall I was lucky to see the resident beaver foraging in the creek a stone’s throw from the trail. Another park visitor told me to keep an eye out for a mink that also makes its home on the creek. Although I’ve never seen one, signs warn visitors to be on the lookout for mountain lions in the area. More commonly seen though are birds, including the aforementioned waterfowl. On a recent trip, I caught sight of two American wigeon dabbling near the bank of one of the ponds. As is usually the case, you’re more likely to see wildlife near dawn or dusk.
Golden Ponds is a great place to fish, cook burgers on provided barbecue grills, or just take a walk. Leashed dogs are welcome in the park as well as on most of the St. Vrain Greenway, and the wide, level paths in the park are handicap accessible. Picnic shelters can be reserved for $35 a day for residents with an additional $9 fee required for non-residents.
Entrance to the park is free and the park is always open, so what are you waiting for? If you’re in the area, come check out Golden Ponds!