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Ice falls along St. Vrain Creek near Golden Ponds. (Glenn Cushman / Courtesy photo)
Ice falls along St. Vrain Creek near Golden Ponds. (Glenn Cushman / Courtesy photo)
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We wrote our first “Nature Walk” column in December, 2010, about Golden Ponds in Longmont. In the ensuing decade, changes and trail extensions have happened, including the one-mile Lykins Gulch Trail. Built after the devastating 2013 flood, this paved, handicapped accessible trail connects the south end of Golden Ponds to Airport Road.

Stringin’ the kid along; a statue of Vern Golden. (Glenn Cushman / Courtesy photo)

Start at Golden Ponds, restored gravel pits named for Vernon Golden who donated the land to Longmont. Enjoy views of Longs Peak as you walk west to the statue of Vernon helping a small boy fish. These ponds are popular with fishermen and with birdwatchers.

Dabbling ducks and gabbling geese usually hang out in all the ponds, and bald eagles often perch in the trees bordering the creek. In April, all six of Colorado’s swallow species swarm over the ponds ensnaring insects, and in May, warblers — including such rarities as magnolia, white-throated and parula — flit through the tree tops.

At the statue we like to take the unpaved path that heads west, skirts ponds #1 and #2, and then turn east to follow St. Vrain Creek to the bridge. The paved path heading south from the statue to the bridge is a shorter route. When you come to the creek, cross the bridge and enjoy the waterfall cascading over eroded chunks of concrete. A pet peeve from the height-challenged: Why are so many bridges built making it hard to see over the top railing?

Beyond the bridge, the main trail (the western segment of St. Vrain Greenway Trail) turns left and follows the creek to Fairgrounds Lake and on to Sandstone Ranch. For the Lykins Gulch Trail, named for the Lykins geologic formation, go straight ahead.

We like to linger near the pond at the Lykins Gulch intersection as we have seen both beaver and mink here. Look for great blue herons in the rookery east of the pond. If the water is not too high, you can cross on stepping stones to the south side of the pond.

Longmont’s namesake presides over Golden Ponds. (Glenn Cushman / Courtesy photo)

From the Lykins Gulch sign, continue south on the trail bordered by wetlands where we sometimes see snowy egrets and hear blackbirds singing. Various waterfowl paddle about in the ponds near the trail, but these ponds are on private property with no public access. South of the ponds, the trail passes Sky Pilot Farm where you’ll see (and hear) dogs guarding the sheep.

This is an in-and-out trail, so turn back when you reach Airport Road. Or, you can continue on the bike path that parallels Airport Road heading north.

You’ll find benches, picnic pavilions, and restrooms throughout Golden Ponds Park. To reach this oasis in the city turn west from Hover Road in Longmont onto 3rd Street, which dead-ends at the parking lot.

Note to birdwatchers who remember Lykins Gulch bird banding in years past: that birdy section of Lykins Gulch is several miles distant from this section and is still closed to the public.

Ruth Carol and Glenn Cushman are the authors of “Boulder Hiking Trails,” published by West Margin Press.