Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge Trails, Colorado

Located near downtown Denver, this 1.5-mile trail serves an urban population yet provides visitors an opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife amidst wetlands and prairies.

National Recreation Trail

Designated in 2005

• View more details for this trail
in the NRT Database

• Learn about the NRT Program.

The Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge trail offers two distinct areas to enjoy. the trail forms two loops in the Environmental Education Area where ponds and fruit-bearing trees left behind by homesteaders attract wildlife.

In the Prairie Management area the trail makes a big loop with one trail through the middle, where hikers can imagine what it must have been like for settlers crossing the vast prairies. Hikers can view a native short grass prairie restoration effort in progress in the Prairie Management Area, and can enjoy maginficent views of the distant rock Mountains from many points.

One important improvement to the trail system was to connect the Environmental Education area trail with the Prairie Management area trail via two footbridges over the Croke and Farmers High Line Canals. These are two of the major canals which provide irrigation water for agricultural use in the north Denver Metro area.

The bridges were funded through a Colorado State Trails Program grant and a federal Challenge Cost-Share grant, with assistance from the Two Ponds Preservation Foundation. Installation was complete in the summer of 2005.

The trail along the Farmers High Line Canal, which divides the refuge into its two major areas

The trail along the Farmers High Line Canal, which divides the refuge into its two major areas

The addition of the bridges will also connect the Two Ponds NWR trail with the Farmers High Line Canal Trail. This trail has been a collaborative effort, receiving support from Great Outdoors Colorado (state lottery funds), Two Ponds Preservation Foundation, and the City of Arvada. Assistance with construction labor was provided by the Mile High Youth Corps.

This trail serves an urban population and provides an opportunity to observe wild animals in their natural habitats, and provides a glimpses of what the refuge system has to offer. The trail is heavily used for environmental education programs for all kinds of organizations including many school groups. A partnership with the Colorado Wildlife Federation provides assistance with educational programs.

The Prairie Management area trail is improved with a crusher fines surface, while the Environmental Education Area trail is primarily mowed grass with a small area of crusher fines surface. while a portion of this trail is accessible, most of the slopes on the trail system are too severe for accessibility.

One of the bridges over the canal with the two ponds and environmental education area in the background

One of the bridges over the canal with the two ponds and environmental education area in the background

Two Ponds Preservation Foundation

The Two Ponds Preservation Foundation is an essential support group for the Refuge, it's trail system, and its educational efforts. The foundations fundraising efforts began with the “Bricks for Bridges” program in 2000. Since then the Foundation has received literally hundreds of cash and merchandise donations from private donors, local companies, and municipalities. Without these donations, the refuge would not be what it is today. These donors truly are the source of much that is good at the refuge.

In 2007, interest in volunteering at Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge increased dramatically following a front page article in the Arvada Press newspaper featuring the Refuge and calling for volunteer help. That article generated a lot of enthusiasm and support, and the volunteers that have come forward have been a great help in accomplishing a variety of projects.

Specifically, volunteers have recently helped install a new motion sensor, fix signage, secure proper bridge footing, tend the prairie garden, maintain Refuge grounds, and remove invasive plants as part of weed control efforts. Many of these same volunteers also helped staff the annual Trails Day event. In addition to controlling invasive vegetation, a big priority is the prairie restoration project. "Two Ponds Tuesday" volunteers meet the second Tuesday of each month at 8:00 am at the Refuge parking lot just off 80th Ave. All are welcome to join in!

For more information

US Fish and Wildlife Service Rocky Mtn. Arsenal NWR 7200 Quebec St., Bldg. 121 Commerce City, CO 80022 (303) 289-0232 Website:

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