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McKay Lake Open Space

McKay Lake Open SpaceSouth of 144th Avenue and east of Zuni Street.

This 61.9-acre lake is the focal point of the 128.5-acre McKay Lake Open Space. McKay Lake is the second largest lake in Westminster (after Standley Lake).

A 1.5-mile trail encircles the lake. The north side of the lake is dominated by a wonderful grove of mature cottonwood trees. The trail passes through this area and leads to a floating fishing pier which has great lake and mountain views. A trail head parking lot is located on the north side of the lake at the southwest corner of 144th Avenue and Tejon Street.

A dam and spillway which form part of the eastern shoreline were rebuilt in 2005 to enhance dam safety. A new dam was also built on the south shore of the lake. The city took great care to build the new dam south of the old dam to preserve the ancient cottonwood trees. Huge homes in the Lexington Shores subdivision overlook the east side of lake. Willow thickets and an occasional cottonwood tree provide wildlife habitat near the shoreline. The sweeping views to the west across the lake are very dramatic.

On the south shore, huge cottonwood trees along the shoreline provide welcome shade for trail users. A large expanse of cattails edge the shallow western side of the lake.

McKay Lake is a magnet for wildlife, especially birds. In fact, McKay Lake was a fishing and hunting club until the lake was bought by the city for open space in 2000. Many types of waterfowl can be found at the lake including ducks, geese, bald eagles and white pelicans. Redwing blackbirds nest in the cattail areas.

In 2008, the city bought 2.92-acres of land at the southeast corner of 144th Avenue/Zuni Street to create an open space buffer with Broomfield to the west.

In 2012, the city purchased the 8.8-acre McKay Overlook property at the southeast corner of 144th Avenue and Zuni Street. The property is located on the north side of McKay Lake and includes 440 feet of frontage along 144th Avenue, as well as frontage along Zuni Street.

This open space provides great lake views from Zuni Street.

McKay Lake is deservedly one of the city’s most popular open space properties. It serves as a regional destination for fishing and wildlife viewing. 

McKay Lake was acquired by the city in 2000 to preserve wildlife habitat along with a historic irrigation lake. More than 100 years old, the lake was built in 1905. McKay Lake supports a variety of fish that have been stocked by the Division of Wildlife since the city purchased the property.

Preserving the lake and surrounding area protects land and water dedicated to the conservation of wildlife habitat and natural resources for the community. The City and County of Broomfield owns the property just south of McKay Lake and is currently looking into developing the property for various outdoor recreation activities. This large open space at the edge of the city also acts as a community separator with adjoining Broomfield and a buffer against development.

Photo: Courtesy Mike Smith

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