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Arapaho Bend Natural Area, Fort Collins, Colorado

Arapaho Bend aerial photo

Size: 250 acres

Key Habitats: Previously gravel mined ponds, riparian forest, grasslands, river.

Description: This naturalized gravel mining site has several ponds which provide habitat to bass, yellow perch, and pumpkinseed fishes. Cormorants, raccoons, beavers, rabbits, snapping turtles, and skunks also live here.

Features: Parking lots at the corner of Horsetooth Road and Strauss Cabin Road, along Strauss Cabin Road, and at the Harmony Transportation Transfer Center; 2 miles of soft-surface trails; interpretive signs; benches.

Fort Collins Natural Areas | map

There are five ponds there and the access to the Poudre River. I paddled only the largest Beaver Pond in the beginning of November 2002: about 0.5 mile long, launching about 300 yards from the Harmony parking, gravel and pebble shores. Nice area, but somewhat noisy due to proximity of I-25 and Harmony Road.

The aerial photo from October 1999 (courtesy of MSN TerraServer and USGS) covers the 800x2000m (0.5x1.25 mile) area. The autumn pictures below were shot in the middle of October 2002 and the panorama about 3 weeks later during my paddling.

I used to visit the end of Horsetooth Road quite often to photograph Strauss Cabin before it was burned in 1999.

Arapaho Bend - October 2002 Arapaho Bend - October 2002 Arapaho Bend - October 2002
Arapaho Bend - October 2002

Arapaho Bend - February 2003

February 2003. I often paddle in the Arapaho Bend during winter. You have to share the water with geese. If the weather is warm enough these ponds are open though it may may be some ice in the morning.

During February 2003 I tested my new outrigger canoe on the Beaver Pond: video clip. The first test ended up with a capsize and swim in icy water.

Beaver Pond remains my favorite spot for short paddling or training all year around if it is not covered by ice. Usually, I launched from Strauss Cabin Road just a few feet from water across a fence. It seems that during April muskrats were very active and visible on water. And, of course, I have to share the pond with geese.

Arapaho Bend - April 2004 Arapaho Bend - April 2004

Arapaho Bend October 27, 2004.
Evening workout in my Sisson Nucleus kayak. The very last colors of the fall season. Five laps around Beaver Pond is a course of my 5 miles virtual race. Recently, I also explored two smaller ponds in the northern part of this area which provide access to the Poudre River.

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