Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rod & Gun Club Ponds, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Rod & Gun Club Ponds
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Date Hiked: January 25, 2015

Distance: 3.5 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 100ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,244 to 5,260ft
Trailhead Lat/Long:39.812950, -104.861191
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Fee: None

Rocky Mt. Arsenal NWR Trail Map (FWS)

Directions: From Denver head east on I-70 and exit onto Quebec Street.  Turn left to head north on Quebec.  Turn right on Prairie Parkway and left on Gateway Road.  Follow Gateway Road into the park and bear right onto Wildlife Drive.  Follow the signs to the lakes area and once you pass the 4 way intersection with Havana Street/Wildlife Drive, look to the left for the parking area sign.  Park here but cross Wildlife Drive to the Prairie trailhead on the south side of Wildlife Drive.

The hike to the Rod & Gun Club Ponds is one of the prettiest hikes in the refuge.  The easy, rambling, trail cuts through multiple stands of juvenile and mature cottonwoods.  The trees are stark during the winter and I would love to come back to this trail in the spring or fall when the trees show their true colors.  The landscape along the trail alternates between narrow chutes between the trees and open prairie with terrific views of the Front Range mountains.  Your destination is a wildlife viewing blind on the shore of the ponds and it feels like you are quite remote by the time you reach the ponds, even though Wildlife Drive is only a few hundred yards away.

From the small parking area, cross the road and start out on the Prairie Trail.  When you get to the junction for the Havana Ponds Trail, stay straight and continue through the trees.  Pass another trail junction and soon you'll come to a T intersection.  Go right or left, both ways lead to the same spot.  When you reach the other side of the loop, follow the signs to the Viewing Blind.

This trail sees far less traffic then the trail around Lake Ladora and is far more scenic then the hike to Havana Ponds.  If you are a fan of prairie and cottonwoods, then this hike will be paradise for you.  The big skies and mountain views are just icing on the cake...oh yeah, keep your eyes out for wildlife, this is a wildlife refuge after all...

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