SHOW UP for Equestrian Trail Use!

Do you enjoy trail riding on our local and regional public lands?  Many local equestrians do and find our local trails a major benefit of living in the Foothills.  As trail riders, keeping an eye on the public trails for equestrian use is a necessity if we want to continue to enjoy them with our horses.  As we know, equestrians are the minority group of those who use our regional trails, therefore we need to be showing up at meetings, contact decisionmakers to indicate our interest and support for trail use for equestrians.  Here are some ways to “show up”!

  1. Sign up for trail use information

Sign up at for Jefferson County Open Space emails to be informed of upcoming meetings regarding trail use.  Scroll through list to the Calendar and News Flash section, click on email or text format.

  1. Go riding!

Show up to ride your horse at local parks to visually indicate the need for oversized parking for horse trailers.  It can certainly be challenging to show up and find the economy car parked in the trailer parking, but if other trail users never see anyone parked there, they don’t understand the need.  As always, be a positive ambassador for equestrians on the trail.  Thank people for providing a way for you to pass, let faster trail users safely pass by, engage hikers and bikers with a “good morning” or “enjoy your hike/ride”, kindly teach them to say hello to your horse when they are hidden off of the trail (insert a joke about your horse thinking they might be a mountain lion waiting there to pounce), and let people pet your horse if they look like they want to!

  1. Join Jefferson County Horse Council

This organization collaborates and keeps area horse people informed of local horse and equestrian interests.  The monthly meetings are informative and vary in topics.  Go to:

Tip for parking at local parks– Download the Lot Spot App for real time parking availability at regional parks. See live and historical data so you can better plan your trips.

Good changes coming through the Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park Parking Expansion

This year and next, Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) is working on implementing their parking lot expansion for the East and West Trailheads.  Thanks to one of the horse neighbors of Alderfer who met with a planner, here is some of the latest information.  The contact at Open Space for this parking lot re-design is Eric Krause.

  1. The west parking lot at Alderfer/3 Sisters will be rebuilt in Spring 2023. There will be Oversized Vehicle Parking, with only equestrians allowed in those spaces until 10 AM. However, parking will be on the honor system, so other vehicles may park in the OSV spaces without repercussions. These spaces will be located at the far west side of the new lot, making them less attractive for those visitors who want to step out of their cars and on to the trail.
  2. The new lot will be surfaced with horse-safe cement pavers.
  3. There will not be hitching rails.
  4. Equestrians need to take their horses’ manure out with them.
  5. Groups of any size can reserve the OSV parking for their rides, in advance. Information on the reservation process is on the JCOS website. The policy applies to all Open Space parks, not just Alderfer. There is no fee, but if equestrians make a reservation, then don’t show up without notice, they will not be allowed to make reservations in the future. Cones will be placed by the Open Space Ranger for reserved spaces.

JCOS is working to acknowledge the needs of the varied visitor groups at Alderfer/Three Sisters and is doing their best, as public land managers, to protect park resources. Oversized/equestrian parking spaces are part of the plan at both the west and east trailheads. They are available on a first come, first-served basis. Another option, for those equestrians comfortable with it, is to park at Wilmot Elementary and take the Wilmot Trail to the park. The JCOS Trails Team plans to improve that trail in the coming year.

Summer 2021–Spring 2022 West Trailhead Expansion Design & Construction

Summer 2022–Fall 2023 East Trailhead Expansion Design & Construction

More Info regarding Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park, go to:

For Colorado State and Federal Equestrian Information, go to:

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Horse Riding:

National Forest Service:

Enjoy the trails, be a conscientious trail user and help to advocate for equestrian trail use by showing up for meetings related to trail use, as well as to showing up to ride the trails!  Heather McWilliams © 2022.