Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat 

Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat

Nature's healing influence, heartened by human support, has transformed Walden Ponds from industrial gravel pits to flourishing wetland habitat. Come see for yourself this scenic restoration Cinderella story, which yields some of the best bird-watching opportunities in the county.


Walden Ponds Trails

3.5 miles
(includes Heatherwood Trail)
Hiking Allowed Leashed Dogs Allowed Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed

Picnic Areas

  • Tables, group shelters, and 2 grills


  • Located at both Cottonwood Marsh and Wally Toevs Pond


  • Cottonwood Marsh lot accommodates 18 cars and 2 horse trailers


Keep in Mind

  • Some areas are closed to the public to protect nesting birds or for re-vegetation
  • Wading, swimming and boating are not allowed
  • Since ponds are primarily groundwater-fed, levels may fluctuate substantially depending on recent precipitation

Open ParkingParking      [ ] Property Boundaries      [ ] Trails

Brochures & Field Guides

Management Plan


Repairing Walden Ponds

Staff presented tentative plans to rebuild sections of Walden Ponds at a public meeting on June 26. The plan is to fix breaches between the ponds and restore trails and access in accordance with the existing Walden Ponds Management Plan. We are continuing to work with FEMA to formalize these plans.

Concrete crossing at Walden Ponds

Proposed concrete crossing between Cottonwood Marsh and Bass Pond.

Concrete crossing at Walden Ponds

Another crossing option between Cottonwood Marsh and Bass Pond.


Jesse Rounds
Natural Resources Planner

Plants & Animals

Wetland habitats, nestled within the surrounding Great Plains, support aquatic plant and animal life and serve to lure in large numbers of migrating bird species. With grasses, wildflowers and trees surrounding the wetlands, these areas are biologically diverse both in and out of the water.


  • Beaver
  • Coyote
  • Desert cottontail
  • Mule deer
  • Muskrat
  • Raccoon
  • Red fox
  • Rock squirrel
  • Striped skunk
  • Western harvest mouse


Amphibians & Reptiles

  • Bullfrog
  • Bullsnake
  • Garter snake
  • Northern leopard frog
  • Painted turtle
  • Snapping turtle


  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish
  • Common carp
  • Fathead minnow
  • Green carp
  • Largemouth bass


Coming Soon                      


Gravel Mine

Gravel was first mined in 1958. Open pits and puddles of groundwater were all that remained after the property had been stripped 15 feet down to bedrock.


In 1974, the county initiated a reclamation program after county residents expressed strong interest in creating a wildlife habitat. Piles of rock were compacted into dikes creating three ponds. Two additional ponds were added during the 1990s. Tree and shrub seedlings were planted and dry areas were seeded to help foster natural re-vegetation. The ponds were allowed to fill with groundwater and then stocked with fish.

Evolving Ecosystem

Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat first opened to the public in October 1975 and is a work in progress, a park that is still evolving as a wildlife habitat and recreational retreat.

The Name

Contrary to what many believe, Walden Ponds is not a reference to Thoreau’s pond of the same name. It is named after Walden “Wally” Toevs, the Boulder County Commissioner who spearheaded the plan to convert the gravel pits into a wildlife habitat in the 1970s.


Parks & Open Space

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