While many of us head for the foothills and mountains to go hiking, have you also explored the trails in your neighborhood? Most cities and counties on the Front Range have open space parks and trails to explore.
On 104th Avenue, between I-25 and Denver International Airport, I pass at least four open space parks. Today, I decided to explore one of the parks and found a small open space with four ponds.
Grandview Ponds in Thornton is on 104th, near Colorado Boulevard (directions below). In the parking lot, you'll find a porta-potty and several parking spaces. Walk just a few steps from the parking lot and you'll quickly arrive at the first pond.
The first pond has a paved path, four benches and two covered picnic shelters. I also found two people fishing here on a weekday afternoon. They just sat on the benches next to the water and dropped a line. The paved path is also perfect for wheelchairs.
You can go right or left around the first pond to get the second pond -- I went right. After you leave the first pond's trail, you'll find yourself on a dirt path.
The second pond has a dirt path all the way around it with several benches and two more covered picnic tables. The second pond also has a little wooden platform in the water. Technically this fishing pier is for the disabled to fish from, but it's also a nice spot if you want to take a closer look at the water.
After the second pond, there's only one path. It goes over a bridge and into the nearby "fields" to get to the third and fourth ponds. While the first two ponds are popular with fishermen, you'll may notice a familiar chirp as you leave the second pond -- prairie dogs. The entrance sign for the park said this was the "Grandview Ponds Open Space & Prairie Dog Habitat." This next section is the prairie dog habitat. As you walk the dirt trail out here in the fields-like area, you'll be passing dozens and dozens of prairie dog holes. Expect lots of these creatures to sit on their burrows and chirp at you. If you get too close to take a photo, they'll drop down into the maze of tunnels underground.
Quite honestly, ponds three and four were not as nice as ponds one and two. While there's a nice grove of trees near pond three, the rest of area was barren and unappealing. The background for ponds three and four is a trailer park.
I followed the dirt path all the way to the end at Colorado Blvd. to get some exercise, but if you're bringing family here, I would just do a figure 8 around the first two ponds and maybe walk over the bridge to see the prairie dogs, then turn back.
Details: The hike around ponds one and two, past ponds three and four to Colorado Blvd and back is about 1.3 miles with minimal elevation gain.
Learn more about Thornton's parks here. Find more urban trails at the bottom of this article. If you're looking for more nearby trails, check out Rocky Mountain Arsenal and this list of 200+ hikes. Don't miss any of my trip reports, sign for an email alert at the top of this page and follow me on Facebook.
Directions: From 104th & Colorado, travel east a short distance and look for the parking lot and sign on the right side (south side) of 104th.