Beaver Brook Watershed lies roughly four miles west of Bergen Park along Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass/Highway 103 in Evergreen, Colorado.
This 5,700-acre ecosystem serves as an important water supply, wildlife refuge, and is one of the last remaining intact, low-elevation, forested ecosystems along the Front Range. Beaver Brook Watershed connects a corridor of protected forests that originates at 14,000 feet in the Mount Blue Sky Wilderness Area and ends at Noble Meadow and Elk Meadow Open Space parks – spanning almost 20 miles in length with Beaver Brook Watershed serving as a mid-way point along this corridor.
For centuries, Beaver Brook Watershed remained untouched where wildlife roamed freely and water rushed through the canyons.
In the late 1800s, historical records show ranchers and loggers began using the area. In the early 1900s, the City of Golden experienced a rapid population growth and began looking towards the mountains for a source for water. To address this need, the city acquired Beaver Brook Watershed in 1920 and used it as a primary water source for nearly 80 years.
In the late 1990s, the City of Golden needed to sell the land to finance the development of other water storage and supplies. Many residents and passionate open space advocates were concerned about the Beaver Brook Watershed corridor and wanted to protect it from development, as it was zoned for residential use.
When the possibility of the area being put up for sale was brought to Mountain Area Land Trust’s (MALT) attention, volunteers and staff acted quickly to find partners committed to keeping wildlife corridors opens. MALT facilitated an option to buy Beaver Brook Watershed with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Clear Creek County. This plan called for nearly 6,000 acres to be preserved as open space for public use. It also meant that MALT and its partners would need to raise more than $21 million to buy the land over a 5-year period from the City of Golden.
Over the next several years, MALT, with the enthusiastic bipartisan support of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, led an intensive campaign to secure federal funding for the project. A complex set of negotiations resulted in most of the land being added to the adjoining Arapaho National Forest. The remainder was acquired by Clear Creek County Open Space using a $5.2 million loan from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the state lottery-funded entity, and money provided by Jefferson County Open Space and MALT.
Thanks to this multi-year effort, today, it is a place where wildlife roam freely and thousands of Coloradans come to enjoy the scenery and miles of trails. Beaver Brook Watershed is managed by USFS and Clear Creek County. And, MALT holds Conservation Easements for a portion of the watershed and annually monitors these easements.
There were hundreds of people and several organizations involved in this transaction. MALT thanks and acknowledges prior MALT board and staff members, volunteers, including Greg Vallin with Brownstein who offered pro bono legal services, Congressional delegates including Congressman Mark Udall and Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, among many others, for their fortitude in conserving Beaver Brook Watershed forever.
We invite you to watch this video that shares a good perspective of how this area was ultimately conserved – thank you to Brownstein for producing this video and for its support.
There are three primary ways to access the Beaver Brook Watershed trail system, which encompasses a total of 12-miles of trails.
Visit Colorado Trail Explorer for additional trail information; search Beaver Brook Watershed.
1. Lower Beaver Brook Watershed – near Old Squaw Pass intersection.
Hike to Beaver Brook 3A Reservoir – Out and Back, 1-mile
2. Upper Beaver Brook Watershed – near Witter Gulch intersection
Scenic mountain views – 1.9-mile with 3.2-mile loop
3. Hwy 40 (West)>Homestead (Left)>Beaver Brook Canyon (Left for 2-miles – look for Pat Creek)
Beaver Brook Canyon – Beaver Brook Canyon/Pat Creek (2 miles to reservoir; 4-miles out and back)