Capacity Management at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Prompts New Trail and Expanded Parking Lot
Department: Natural Resources
Release Date: Oct 16, 2013
Travis Rollins, Open Lands Operations Manager (970) 498-5622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Mark Yoder
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is one of Larimer County’s most popular hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding destinations. Popularity is so high that during busy summer days and weekends throughout the year, parking lots become full and Larimer County Rangers turn visitors away. Plans for a new trail from the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space lower trailhead (Soderberg Trailhead) and reconfiguration of the Blue Sky Trailhead will help spread visitors across the open space and provide additional parking.
“The parking situation at Horsetooth is something we’ve been monitoring for years,” said Travis Rollins, Larimer County’s Open Space Operations Manager. “This open space, in addition to other open spaces with close proximity to Fort Collins and Loveland get more popular each year.” Data collected by Larimer County show that Horsetooth Mountain Open Space has received more than 80,000 visitors from January 1 - October 1 and another 20,000 are expected by the end of the year.
Increased visitation has led to few trail conflicts or natural resource impacts, however, parking and public safety along County Road 38E have become concerns. The upper trailhead is the most common start for the popular Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock hikes and when this lot is full, visitors occasionally park in the County Road 38E right-of-way. “Parking along 38E can be dangerous; there is no dedicated trail here and visitors either walk along the traffic lane or scramble up the hillside,” said Mr. Rollins. “Public safety is our highest priority and the improvements proposed at Horsetooth are designed to expand access while improving safety and protecting sensitive natural and cultural resources.”
Additional measures to improve safety and recreation access are under consideration, including a parking lot web cam and mobile phone applications. Larimer County will present the proposed improvements and take public input at a meeting scheduled on Monday, October 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Fort Collins Harmony Library, Community Room, located at 4616 South Shields Street.
To learn more about Larimer County’s parks and open spaces,