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Nelson Ranch Open Space and Swallowtail Trail


Nelson Ranch Open Space and Trail is accessible from the Sharptail Open Space and Trail at Roxborough Park Road, and is located behind the hogback, south of Roxborough State Park, this open space protects a variety of wildlife habitats.

The Swallowtail trail loops are hidden behind the uplifted hogback formations of the Front Range on Douglas County’s Nelson Ranch Open Space.  The loops wind among rocks and ledges, through shrublands speckled with pines and firs, and over intermittent creeks and upland meadows.

**There are seasonal hunting closures in the fall of each year if accessing from the Sharptail Trail at Sharptail Ridge Open Space Trailhead.*

Address:  6500 Roxborough Park Road, Sedalia, CO 80135

Size: 695 acres

Hours: One hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset

Property/Trail Information:

  • hiking and horseback riding
  • Mountain biking is accessible from the Pike National Forest
  • The trail will lead to two loops, totaling about 2.6 miles round trip.
  • Ringtail Trail branches off to the southwest from the Swallowtail trail
  • Natural surface, moderately difficult because of remoteness of the area, with elevation gains of 250 + feet.
  • Approximately 2.6 miles for the two adjoining loops.  To get there via the Sharptail Trail, you will need to travel 4.6 miles to the Swallowtail Loops at Nelson Open Space.Ho
  • rseback riders and hikers are allowed to access via the restrictive 4.6-mile Sharptail Trail.
  • Mountain bikers and dogs on leash (as well as hikers and horseback riders) are allowed to access from the National Forest’s Indian Creek Trail and Douglas County’s Ringtail Trail.


  • Benches and picnic tables.

Note: User access from Sharptail Trail requires covering a distance of 4.6 miles before reaching the northern end of Swallowtail Trail. Multiple users, including mountain bikes and pets on a leash, can access Swallowtail Trail from the Indian Creek Trailhead of Pike National Forest (a distance of about 9 miles).  Indian Creek Trailhead does require a daily parking fee of $7.00.  Access for hikers from Roxborough State Parks’ visitor center via Carpenter Peak Trail and County Road 5 is approximately 2.5 miles.