The 876-acre Lincoln Mountain Open Space is located along the upper reaches of West Cherry Creek with meadows and rolling grasslands that are backed up by forested rocky cliffs and the taller mesa of Lincoln Mountain. The eastern portion of land operates as a working cattle and hay ranch. This open space has a high-value wildlife habitat and contains riparian habitat for the federally threatened Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. Miles of trails are open to the public for hiking, horseback and mountain biking.
From the trailhead, you can hike, bike, or ride a horse on the slightly challenging rocky 4-mile upper loop to the top of Lincoln Mountain. Pikes Peak to Longs Peak can be seen on a clear day and the views and the descent back down makes it well worth it. From the parking lot, you can take the Palmer Divide Ranch Trail and enjoy the 4.5-mile round trip on a lower loop that incorporates a variety of terrain from wide-open prairie to slower-paced technical rock sections. This lower loop winds through Gambel oak and ponderosa pine. A picnic area is located near West Cherry Creek where you can stop under a beautiful willow tree and relax. Open from 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset.
Trail Rating: The Lincoln Mountain Trail is moderately difficult with the almost 400-foot climb to the top. The Palmer Divide Ranch Trail features moderately easy, undulating climbs along rocky, forested cliffs and through open meadows.
Trail Length: From the trailhead, the Lincoln Mountain Trail is 4.2 miles round trip, and the Palmer Divide Ranch Trail is 4.5 miles round trip. The two may be joined together for an 8.3-mile outing.
Trail Surface: This is a natural surface trail, with some flat caprock footing on the lower Palmer Divide Ranch Loop, and sharper rhyolite rocks emerging on the upper part of the Lincoln Mountain Loop.
Users: Open to the public for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Pets must be kept on leash. There is a private area in the middle of the property where homes and barns are located and the fields east of Cherry Creek are off-limits to the public. This area is leased for grazing and hay production.
Amenities: At the trailhead, there is an informational kiosk, port-a-potty, and parking for cars and 25 horse trailers and no hitch rails, and an unpaved parking lot. By West Cherry Creek on the north loop, you will find a pullout with benches under a large willow tree and access to the creek to water your horse or dog.
Location: The property, located at 7333 Jones Road in southern Douglas County, is .6 miles west of State Highway 83 on Jones Road, 18 miles south of Franktown, CO.
Contact: Douglas County Division of Open Space and Natural Resources 303-660-7495.
The former 771-acre Palmer Divide Ranch on West Cherry Creek had been planned for development. The downturn in the economy provided the opportunity for Douglas County to acquire the ranch for open space. One hundred five acres composed of three 35-acre parcels in an adjacent development were also acquired to protect the conservation values and add four miles of recreational opportunities on the top of Lincoln Mountain.
Year Acquired: The Palmer Divide Ranch parcel was purchased in 2009, and the 35-acre parcels were acquired in 2010.
Acres: 976 acres (771 acres formerly known as Palmer Divide Ranch on West Cherry Creek, and 105 acres added from three 35-acre parcels on the northwest side).
Conservation: Fee Title, owned by Douglas County, with a conservation easement held by Douglas Land Conservancy
Partners: Douglas Land Conservancy as the conservation easement holder. Great Outdoors Colorado assisted with the funding.
Location: About 18 miles south of Franktown, CO on Hwy 83.