Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt - Jefferson County
Aliases: West Lake, Bass Lake, Tabor Lake, Prospect Park/Pond
Ownership: None Listed
Description: A deservedly famous metro-area migrant trap. Among other lesser claims to fame, this is the site of the first state record of Red-faced Warbler. Some local birders say that Wheat Ridge has not been as productive in recent years as it was previously, but this may be due to reduced coverage, as the habitat is still some of the very best in urban Denver. The greenbelt protects a nice wide swath of mature riparian cottonwood forest along Clear Creek that stretches more than a mile between Youngfield and Kipling streets, encompassing four good-sized ponds and quite a bit of brushy marsh and swampy second growth.

The west parking lot accesses the broadest section of the Greenbelt and is closest to the ponds. West Lake, a deep gravel pit visible from the parking lot, is the largest and most productive for waterfowl. Directly east of it is Bass Lake, a smaller and marshier place worth checking for puddle ducks, herons and rails. South of these two ponds, a series of swampy trails explores all manner of dense brush and wet draws, where you could find yourself swimming in sparrows and snipe--or, if you're not careful, stagnant water. Just to the north across the river is Tabor Lake, accessible by footbridge, whose tiny island is home to a small but tightly packed breeding colony of Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants.

The east parking lot is closer to the dense woods where the best migrants are often found, and Eastern Screech-Owl is semi-regular near the parking lot, in the first lone tree on the left that partially overhangs the main trail west. Look in and around the hole about ten feet up. If you don't see a roosting owl there, check nearby trees.

In between these parking lots, the greenbelt can be accessed from Prospect Park on the north side of the creek, which has a lake of its own, Prospect Pond, worth checking for waterfowl in season.

Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Marsh, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Stream
Directions: To get to the west parking lot: From I-70, take exit 266 and follow signs for West 44th Avenue. Turn west on 44th Avenue and then south on Youngfield Street. The parking lot is on the left (east) side of Youngfield just after the Clear Creek bridge. To get to the east parking lot: From I-70 exit 267, take Kipling south about three quarters of a mile and turn right (west) on 41st Avenue. Follow 41st as it winds around the water treatment plant and look for signs to the greenbelt parking lot. To get to Prospect Park: Follow directions as to the east parking lot, but turn right (west) on 44th Avenue and go one mile west. Look for the entrance to Prospect Park on your left (south).
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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Latest Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Sightings from eBird


CBRC Records from Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron2015-092 08/07/2015
White-eyed Vireo51-90-445/16/1990 - 5/17/1990
White-eyed Vireo2000-935/21/2000
Blue-headed Vireo1999-1099/14/1999 - 9/15/1999
Golden-winged Warbler52-91-608/20/1991 - 8/21/1991
Golden-winged Warbler1999-1249/14/1999
Prothonotary Warbler52-85-338/20/1985
Prothonotary Warbler1999-1449/14/1999
Mourning Warbler52-92-319/11/1992
Kentucky Warbler2000-1385/14/2000
Bay-breasted Warbler52-90-575/17/1990
Red-faced Warbler52-93-365/3/1993