This short, kid-friendly hike is choice if you’re visiting the nearby Discovery Pavilion + Audubon Center. Though it won’t provide the rambling terrain of some of the other hiking trails within Chatfield State Park, it still travels through a surprising variety of animal habitat, from forest to shrublands, grasslands, ponds and wetlands.
In just over 1.5 miles of flat, wide trail, hikers travel along the South Platte River and pass the gravel ponds that are nestled underneath the rolling, grassy foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Chatfield Reservoir and the surrounding bodies of water are renowned as some of the best lake fishing in the area, and a short "pond-side" sojourn can yield sightings of panfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, catfish, and more. If you’re looking for a reprieve from the droves that descend upon the Chatfield Reservoir Swim Beach on a hot day, the gravel ponds can offer a bit more solitude for stand-up paddlers, canoers, and those that would simply like to dip their feet. Swimming is not allowed.
There are almost 350 species of birds that have been spotted within the park, and the variety spans from hummingbirds, gulls, and terns, to owls, hawks, and eagles. Likewise, the ground-going fauna is equally as diverse. Whitetail and mule deer abound while elk are quite elusive; coyote, red fox, cottontail rabbits, prairie dogs, and bear are also frequent visitors and residents in the park. Consider printing out the Chatfield Bird List and picking up a birding book on your way.
Note that entry into Chatfield State Park costs $8.00 for a day pass and $70.00 for an annual pass and can be purchased at the entrance.