On Wednesday at lunch I drove past an apparent trailhead parking lot I hadn't seen and it was for Lowell Ponds State Wildlife Area on Lowell near 56th in Denver/Arvada/Berkley (not sure which). I turned around and stopped to stretch my legs with a walk.
The small section I saw on my brief outing was possibly not the best part, and being nestled in a semi-industrial area, parts of it had the welcoming allure of a minimum-security prison exercise yard.
However, look away from the barbed wire and the electric transmission lines, and the ponds are pretty nice and full of life. There was an east-west paved path, plus a social trail around one of the ponds. There are more ponds to the north farther away from the lot (there's a map at the parking lot).
I've heard that amphibians are an indicator of the health of a watershed, and if so this one's doing fine. As I walked by, frogs of all sizes jumped into the water. Plus, toads and frogs are up there with sea turtles, sea otters, giraffes and cephalopods on my list of cool animals. Yeah, I have a list.
I've always had a fascination with the marginal spaces in cities and towns, how they get turned into recreational spaces, and how nature simply goes on in them as if we don't exist. Life is incredibly adaptable and the variety of species in these small places amazes me.
As I kicked a minature liqour bottle out of my way and got in my car to leave, a Mexican guy was staring at me intently the whole time, doing a bad job of "hiding" behind his truck. Up to no good? Worried that I'm Immigration? It didn't exactly lend a warm fuzzy feeling to the experience... and this was mid-day in broad daylight.
Nonetheless, it would be worth it to come back and explore the whole complex of marshes and ponds, since I just saw the tiny quadrant near the parking lot. In Googling the place I found several bird watchers' reports about it, so obviously it sees some use and has something to offer. The frogs like it.