Trails

Introduction.

Boulder County encompasses some of the most beautiful scenery and trails in the United States. Many of these are multi-use trails, open to hikers (and dogs), equestrians, and bikers alike. Rules and regulations surrounding use of this precious natural resource are subject to change, and one of BCHA’s primary goals is to keep the horse community informed on these issues. We expend considerable time and resources in our ongoing effort to ensure that Open Space, State Parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and National Forest trails will be available to horse owners now and in the future. Sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on pending legislative issues.

BCHA wants to help you find and prepare for your next trail-riding adventure! We recommend the following resources:

Happy Trails — A collection of essays and trail logs for selected equestrian trails in Boulder County and neighboring areas, By Suzanne Webel

Happy Trails includes over 80 equestrian trail logs in and around the Boulder County area, written by Suzanne Webel. The two, 3-ring binder set includes nearly 140 pages of trail descriptions with maps of each area. It also includes information on map reading, trail etiquette, safety, trailering, and public land management. Happy Trails, Volume I & II and Happy Trails, Volume III are available for purchase at $30 each, plus $5 shipping.  Click here to order

Subsequent new trail logs and updated earlier ones are available on this website in the “Happy Trails by Suzanne Webel” section, under “Trails.”

Boulder Area Trails Coalition (BATCO) Map, by Suzanne Webel

Recently revised, the third edition of the popular BATCO Trails & Recreation Map of Boulder County shows which trails are open to various user groups (pedestrian, equestrian, bike, motorized), as well as the type of trail surface (paved greenways, soft-surface trails, 4WD roads). It also includes other recreational amenities such as bike lanes, trailheads, ranger stations, urban parks, dog parks, recreation centers, golf courses, fishing holes, campgrounds, and even hospitals.

The BATCO Map measures 30″ x 48″ and is printed on waterproof, tear-resistant paper. Folded dimensions measure 4″ x 7.5″. (The map is also available unfolded and rolled, if requested.) Retail cost is $11.95 and it’s available for sale in bike, equestrian, outdoor sports, and hardware stores throughout the county. Click here to purchase from our online store.

Public Land Agencies

Boulder County Parks and Open Space (BCPOS)

With more than 100,000 acres in their purview, BCPOS manages some of the most equestrian-friendly trails in Boulder County, including Rabbit Mountain, Walker Ranch, Hall Ranch, Heil Valley Ranch, Betasso/Benjamin Preserve, Rock Creek Farm, Mayhoffer/Singletree, and Caribou Ranch.  We certainly appreciate the work that they have done (and continue to do) to build and maintain beautiful, functional, landscaped trailhead parking areas with nice restrooms!

The County is currently conducting management plans on several other park areas, including….[update here to replace “Reynolds/Rogers, Steamboat Mountain, Trevarton, and the St Vrain Greenway, as well as some key connections between these properties.” ] For additional information about Boulder County Parks and Open Space properties, visit the department’s web page www.co.boulder.co.us/openspace.

BCPOS rangers patrol trails on a regular basis. For the very latest information on trail closures and conditions, we urge to visit their website at or sign up for tweets: @BoulderCountyOS.

For a better understanding of where equestrians are allowed on BCPOS properties, check out the BATCO Map (see above for ordering information).

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP)

OSMP has about 127 miles of trails on about 45,000 acres surrounding the City of Boulder.  Until relatively recently, all of those trails were open to horses.  But with increasing urbanization over the years, various political decisions have been made which have resulted in fewer trails for horses and even fewer places where equestrians can park their horse trailers.  Those that are left, however, are wonderful—and include Doudy Draw, Flatirons Vista, Springbrook Mesa, Goshawk Ridge, Mesa Trail, South Boulder Creek, Greenbelt Plateau, Marshall Mesa, Boulder Valley Ranch, East Boulder, and White Rocks. Equestrians have the opportunity to be good ambassadors for continuing our historic enjoyment of this program.  Check out the BATCO map for OSMP trails that are open to horses.

A note about Habitat Conservation Areas:  Visitors who remain on designated trails in HCAs do not need a permit. However, the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department now requires off-trail permits for anyone who wants to go off-trail through a Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) in the Western Mountain Parks, the Southern Grasslands, Eldorado Mountain/ Doudy Draw, and Lower Boulder Creek. Maps of these HCAs and applications for permits can be found at www.osmppermits.org or you can call (303) 441-3440.

A note about Off-Trail Use for Equestrians:  Equestrians are currently allowed off-trail in some areas but not in others—even in areas where other recreationists are allowed. Designated trails have been marked with signs that include a trail name. OSMP plans to designate more HCAs in the system as future planning processes are completed.

Colorado State Parks’ Equestrian Trails

Equestrians throughout the state have many diverse choices for trail riding in Colorado State Parks and several parks have public corrals for those camping with horses. The closest State Park for Boulder equestrians is Golden Canyon, which has many  miles of horse trails and even a new lodge (“The Harmsen Ranch”) where you can stay in civilized comfort with up to eight of your friends, while your horses stay in a nice corral system in a meadow nearby. Click here to look for State Parks with horse-friendly trails:  http://www.parks.state.co.us/