Just below the rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains sits the 2,600 acres of open space that comprises Bear Creek Lake Regional Park. Miles of trail winds through the park as well as designated horseback riding areas, both Homestead and Fox Hollow Golf Courses, and, of course, Bear Creek Reservoir—a popular oasis for locals on warm summer days.
A large swim beach provides ample space for groups large and small, and the lake is open to swimming between Labor Day and Memorial Day. That said, nearby Big Soda Lake is more popular for swimmers. Bear Creek Reservoir is most popular for boaters—there’s a roomy boat ramp located at the northeastern edge of the lake. Note that The City of Lakewood limits boat travel on the reservoir to boats under 10 horsepower or wakeless speeds. When the wind blows, this is one of the most popular spots in the greater Denver metro area for windsurfing along with Big Soda Lake, and it’s rare to see the lake without droves of stand-up paddlers or sit-on-top kayakers.
In the summertime the reservoir is stocked up to twice a month with rainbow trout, saugeye, small-mouth bass, yellow perch, and the occasional tiger muskie or walleye. Ice fishing is permitted when the temperature drops substantially in the bitter cold months, and during a cold snap you’ll often see small groups of people in the middle of the lake. It’s quite dangerous if you’re unfamiliar with the procedures, so exercise discretion. Always be sure to pick up a Colorado State Fishing License before you head out to cast in both the summer and wintertime.
Bear Creek Horse Ranch and Stables is located within the park and offers horseback rides through the park to both small and large groups. Though it’s hard to tire of the incredible views of the foothills, and the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre while on foot, there’s something special about getting a fresh perspective on horseback.
Even though the park is extremely well-loved and used often, a remarkable array of wildlife calls it home. The ecology of the park is impressively varied as well—high prairie, wetland and riparian ecosystems are represented that host over 150 different species of birds including great blue herons, double-breasted cormorants, woodpeckers, magpies, and an array of owls and hawks. Mammals typically spotted around the park include mule deer, beaver, rabbit, prairie dogs, and the occasional coyote.
Don’t think you can fit it all in one day? Indian Paintbrush Campground is right down the road.