Located along Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs, Fountain, and Fort Carson, the 460-acre Fountain Creek Regional Park is a riparian environment robust with an opportunity to view wildlife and is well-reputed for being the best spot in the area for bird-watching. There are a variety of waterfowl to be found in the wetlands, such as Canada geese, great blue herons, and sandhill cranes. You can also observe divers and dabblers from the park’s side trails, benches, and two covered lookouts bordering its ponds.
The Fountain Creek Regional Park is a combination of four smaller parks. These parks are the Willow Springs Ponds, Cattail Marsh Wildlife Area, the Duckwood Active-Use Area, and Hanson Nature Park. These areas are all adjacent to Fountain Creek and connected by the Fountain Creek Regional Trail. Fountain Creek Regional Trail is an urban trail that extends well beyond the park’s boundaries and connects to Colorado Springs’ Pikes Peak Greenway system. From Fountain Creek Regional Park’s northern boundary at Willow Springs Ponds to its southern boundary at Hanson Nature Park, the Fountain Creek Regional Trail is approximately 2.5 miles long. There-and-back, this hike amounts to approximately five miles.
Starting from Willow Springs Ponds, turn left onto Fountain Creek Regional Trail traveling south. The trail ventures by both the North and South Rice Ponds before coming to an intersection near the end of the South Rice Pond. Stay straight, headed toward the information kiosk pavilion. After passing through the kiosk, the trail ventures through the Cattail Marsh Wildlife Area in Fountain, skirting around an open field and coming to another intersection. The left turn immediately crosses over a small footbridge and then curves around toward the Fountain Creek Nature Center.
In case you have not visited the nature center, it is best to turn right, continuing through an open field and another marsh, coming to another split in the trail. As the trail continues straight, it skirts the marsh closely, and crosses a bridge, before heading up to the Fountain Creek Nature Center from the other side. Make a right, cross over a bridge, and then turn left back onto Fountain Creek Regional Trail. From here, the path parallels a stream pretty tightly, reaching another intersection. A left turn leads up to a nearby parking area for Fountain Creek Regional Trail, accessed from Duckwood Rd. Then, a right turn leads back to South Rice Pond.
Continue straight, as the trail skirts Fountain Creek more tightly, passing by a wooden bridge on the left, with a short trail leading to the nearby Duckwood Active-Use Area. Besides being an access point to Fountain Creek Regional Trail, Duckwood Active-Use Area also has picnic pavilions, multi-use fields, and a playground. Past the Duckwood Active-Use Area, the trail dips a little, crossing by a waste management bin, before passing through a wide, open field. Arriving at where the field borders a cottonwood forest, the path passes by a bench and a memorial to a fallen Marine. Just past the memorial, a sign notates damage to the trail ahead.
As the forest opens, Fountain Creek Regional Trail begins to traverse a levee, coming shortly to a break caused by previous floods. Not far off in the distance is the parking lot for the Hanson Nature Park, as well as a bridge crossing in Fountain, CO. This is the turnaround point for the hike. From here, retrace the way back to Willow Springs Ponds, except turn left at the intersection with the nearby parking area accessed from Duckwood Rd. The trail will arrive back at South Rice Pond, just above the Information Kiosk. Take the trail about half a mile back to Willow Springs Ponds, turning left at this point. Considering the levelness and the ease of navigation, this hike is considered easy.
Horseback riding and bicycling are also welcome at Fountain Creek Regional Park, but the Cattail Marsh Wildlife Area is pedestrian-only. Fishing is allowed with a license and the ponds are stocked regularly, but throwing back what is caught is highly recommended to nearby industrial operations.
Next – Willow Springs Ponds #2