Swallowtail Trail


Open Space Enjoyment and Social Distancing

As you anticipate an enjoyable day on Douglas County Open Space properties, please be aware that some trails, due to the location and terrain, have limited space for remaining socially distant from those other than in your immediate party. Please be aware when you encounter these circumstances, adjust accordingly, and help keep our community safe by adhering to
COVID-19 social distancing requirements.


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

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.

Trail Information:

  • 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.
  • Horseback 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.