Vibe: Super chill, the locational equivalent of sipping chai lattes in your favorite pair of cotton joggers on a lazy Saturday morning.
Drive time: About 35 minutes from downtown Denver and only seven miles east of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.
TIP: There are a couple of parking options inside this Boulder County refuge. Bypass the first lot at Wally Toevs Pond and park at Cottonwood Marsh, near the site’s large welcome sign and outhouse. This gets you to the prettiest features fastest.
It’s hard to believe Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat used to be a gravel pit. Today, families are greeted with 2.9 miles of flat and serene trails weaving through a pristine marsh. In addition to five ponds, there are interpretive signs and plenty of nooks where curious kids can get up-close with their surroundings. Heed the one-way traffic flow by crossing a series of wooden bridges first (you’ll see the signs), then explore at your child’s pace. My kids loved the shallow bank at Duck Pond, and we also stumbled upon a secret shelter near Bass Pond.
This biologically diverse site attracts large numbers of migrating birds. During a recent visit to Walden Ponds, my sons and I spotted two bald eagles hanging out on a utility pole near Wally Toevs Pond. Like all wildlife viewing, birding requires patience and a certain level of silence. Challenge your kids to listen for birdcalls.
Accessible Fishing Opportunity
Right past the entrance—and equipped with an ADA-accessible fishing pier and restrooms—Wally Toevs Pond is a fabulous fishing destination reserved exclusively for people with disabilities and guests 65 and older (youth companions welcome). The pond is stocked seasonally, in the spring and fall.
Print a “Mystery Guide” at Home
Boulder County’s Nature Detectives Club program keeps grade-school kids entertained with Mystery Guides, available in English and Spanish on the Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat homepage (bouldercounty.org). In addition to a kid-friendly trail map, the Walden Ponds guide contains several activities for children to tackle on-site. Print a copy before heading out, and don’t forget a pencil.