Watson Lake is an almost hidden gem in the town of Bellvue, a few miles north-west of Fort Collins, Colorado. The 44-acre Watson Lake State Wildlife Area doesn’t just feature the lake. It also offers access to the Cache la Poudre River.
I consider Watson Lake a hidden gem because it can’t be seen from the road and it’s not overcrowded on summer weekends. Or at least, it doesn’t seem overcrowded. When I filmed this lake and the river on Sunday, there were actually quite a few people there fishing or having picnics at one of the many picnic areas. But because you are not allowed to put a boat in the water and because of the greenery surrounding the lake, you don’t usually see most of the other visitors.
Of course, you can see all kinds of birds around the lake. But if you’re really lucky, you get to see the Golden Eagles that live on Bellvue Dome aka Goat Hill, the rock formation to the east of Watson Lake and the Poudre River. While I’ve seen the eagles before, I didn’t get to capture them with my camera on this outing.
There is a trail around most of the lake, except a section on the west side.
I couldn’t find much information about the history of Watson Lake, but according to this picture, Watson Lake appears to be man-made or at least “man-modified.”
Watson Lake State Wildlife Area is located off County Road 52E (Rist Canyon Road). I highly recommend a drive through Rist Canyon – to or from Poudre Canyon Road, depending on the direction you’re coming from.