Dedisse Park is a Denver Mountain Park located within Evergreen, Colorado. The park surrounds and includes Evergreen Lake, the popular visitor location adjacent to downtown Evergreen and home of the Evergreen Nature Center.
Dedisse Trail is nearly six miles long with an elevation gain of 700 feet. The steep trail moves through ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forest with fantastic rock formations at the top of the ridge. Northern Flickers, Steller’s Jays, and House Finches are common residents. Canyon or Rock wrens are possible as well.
The road and paths near the picnic area are much less strenuous. Here, look for Mountain and Western bluebirds, House Wrens, and Violet-green Swallows in the trees around the picnic pavilion. House Wrens often nest in tree hollows right next to the shelter.
Walk along the road north of the parking area toward the old stone bridge. Below the road is an intermittent stream with lots of shrubs for birds, including House Wrens, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Plumbeous and Warbling Vireos, Western Bluebirds, and House Finches.
The bike path from the shopping area on Upper Bear Creek Road is a good place to find Ruby-crowned Kinglets, swallows, and all the vireos again. Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Steller’s Jays are abundant.
If you’d like to learn more about the ecology of the area, visit the Evergreen Nature Center from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday from Earth Day to Memorial Day. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the center is also open Thursday and Friday from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Click here for a park map.
Evergreen Lake, located within Dedissee Park, has a delightful mix of habitats and birds. The area has a cattail marsh, willow-covered islands, ponderosa woodland, a golf course, and the lake itself. From the Evergreen Lake House there is a 1.3-mile loop trail that goes over a boardwalk, through the wetland area, and around the lake towards town. Portions of the trail are handicap accessible.
The boardwalk on the west side of the lake is an excellent place to look for birds. You will generally find Canada Geese lounging on the islands on the north side and Double-crested Cormorants along the dam. Watch for Red-winged Blackbirds in the marsh along the boardwalk. You can regularly see Pygmy Nuthatches, House Finches, swallows, and other common birds. Warblers visit the lake during migration and sometimes breed in the vegetation around it. Don’t miss the list of recent sightings posted at the boardwalk. Local birders add to it every day, which will help you get some ideas of what to look for.
If you watch the skies, you might see a Bald Eagle flying over or hanging out on the top of one of the tallest trees surrounding the lake. Ospreys are also regular flyovers. In early 2022 we even had a group of Tundra Swans land in the lake. It’s always an exciting place to visit.
Evergreen Lake has a parking lot and outside bathrooms. Other activities include fishing, boating, picnicking, and ice skating. Note that parking can be limited, especially when the lake is open for paddle boarding.
In the spring, it’s not unusual to see the herd of elk near the lake or on the adjacent golf course. Just be careful not to get too close. Elk can be dangerous during the breeding season.
Alderfer/Three Sisters Park
Alderfer/Three Sisters Park is one of Jefferson County’s largest open space parks at 1,100 acres and has 12.5 miles of trails. The park is heavily visited and the parking lots fill early. As a result, birding is best done in the early morning. The park has meadows, ponderosa pine forests, rock outcroppings, a seasonal creek, and an area that is largely lodgepole pine forest. In spring and summer use the West Summit Trailhead to access the Wild Iris Loop or the Blue Bird Meadow/Homestead/Silver Fox loop to see Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Black-billed Magpies, and various sparrows and finches. There is a nest box trail in these two areas maintained and monitored by Evergreen Audubon.
Warblers and other small songbirds may be seen in the willows and brambles near the seasonal Buffalo Creek, viewed along stretches of Coneflower and Bearberry trails. Silver Fox Trail, Ponderosa Trail, Sister’s Trail, and Mountain Muhly Trail pass through stands of ponderosa pines, home to Steller’s Jays, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Pygmy Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Pine Siskins, Mountain and Black-Capped chickadees, and the occasional Clark’s Nutcracker.
The challenging trail that leads to the top of Elephant Butte takes off from the top of Mountain Muhly Trail. On this trail you may hear Canyon Wrens and Townsend’s Solitaires and may occasionally see a Golden or Bald eagle soaring over the summit. The view is spectacular.
Other birds found in the park include the usual robins, ravens, crows, and Red-tailed Hawks. The careful listener may hear Great Horned, Pygmy, and Saw-whet owls and even the occasional Long-eared Owl at dawn or dusk. Keep your eye out also for mule deer, elk, coyotes, red foxes, golden-mantled ground squirrels, pine squirrels, and the adorable, tassel-eared Abert’s squirrels. Yellow-bellied marmots are occasionally seen in the rocky areas near the Butte.
When you arrive, you will see a small East Trailhead parking lot first. Continue to the much larger West Summit Trail parking lot. Although limited parking is allowed on Buffalo Park Road, we recommend avoiding parking along it. Spillover parking is available in the lot near the high school ball fields on Buffalo Park Road, east of the East Trail Head lot. There are maps and outhouses at the trailheads and directional signs on the trails.
Kittredge Park is 2.2 miles east of downtown Evergreen on Highway 74. Take a right-hand turn onto Welch Avenue if you are heading east. The park is directly across the street from a veterinary clinic. There, you’ll find a short walking path heading west along Bear Creek.
Walk along the stream but go no farther than the private property signs. Watch the stream for an American Dipper. The dipper is a small, dark gray bird with a brownish head and neck. It walks along the bank or stands on rocks in the middle of the stream. If you spot one, watch as it bobs along and jumps into the rushing water, walks underneath it to search for insects, and pops up to eat what it finds. Notice its white eyelids that close when it dips underwater. You may also find ducks in the stream, especially Mallards with their bright green heads.
Stand on the bridge over Welch Ave and look downstream for more dippers and other birds. Cross the bridge and walk along Columbine Trail. Here, look for birds in the bushes along the stream. During migration, you may see Yellow Warblers, Black-capped Chickadees, Pygmy Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays, House Finches, Song Sparrows, and lots of American Crows flying overhead. You might even spot a Red-tailed Hawk or a Golden Eagle flying over.
Beaver Ranch Park
Beaver Ranch Park is a popular park in Conifer, Colorado, that features 6.1 miles of mostly forested trails. Traveling on Highway 285 from Denver, exit at Foxton Road and head south about 1/4 mile and turn right into the Beaver Ranch Park. Shortly after entering, you’ll find a playground on the right and a fence behind it. Several birds frequent this area. Say's Phoebes have made a nest near the playground for the past two summers. Mountain and Western bluebirds can also be seen on the fence and telephone wires. In May, at least four species of swallows can be seen there. Drive a little farther and park in the disc golf lot. A small creek is in front of the parking area. Many birds frequent the willows here. Walk along the creek for an enjoyable birding experience.