All About Dogs on OSMP

Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) offers dog guardians and their dogs many opportunities to enjoy nature together.

OSMP lands have approximately 155 miles of trails and 89 percent of them are open to dogs on leash.

  • OSMP has a long history of allowing dogs off leash and under voice and sight control for those with the skills. Wondering if you and your pup are up to the task? Check out the Voice and Sight Control Tag Program for more information!

Dog regulations vary on OSMP lands sometimes by season to protect foraging bear habitat or grassland nesting birds, sometimes by geographical area and sometimes dogs are prohibited. Please be mindful of changing regulations and read posted signs as you go through different areas of the OSMP system. It is your responsibility as a dog guardian to read and understand the regulations so that everyone can enjoy their visit to OSMP.

Dog Regulations

Pick up poop!

Did you know that an estimated 80,000 pounds of pet waste are left behind on OSMP property every year? Help keep OSMP a safe and clean place to recreate and scoop that poop! Thinking “I’ll pick it up on my way back?” It is required by law that you immediately dispose of pet waste by either putting it in the nearest dog waste bin or taking it with you. A little can go a long way to keep OSMP land smelling and looking great! Remember, there is no "poop fairy."

Maintain control of your dog

Most trails on OSMP are multi-use, meaning that they are open to bikes, horses, dogs, hikers and runners. This provides the opportunity for you and your pup to encounter a variety of different situations and interactions. Remember that to avoid a sticky situation, you and your dog must not be aggressive toward other people or dogs, and it is illegal for you and your dog to chase or disturb wildlife or livestock. Thank you for being respectful and considerate to all visitors!

Trailhead Leash Program

Trailheads are busy places with cars and people coming and going. The Trailhead Leash Program requires dog guardians to leash their dogs upon exiting their vehicle at all OSMP trailheads, and in the area of the trailheads. This program was designed to keep you, your dog and other visitors to our trails safe and to help make everyone’s outdoor experience as enjoyable as possible.

Seasonal Leash Restrictions

Seasonal Leash restrictions are in place May 1 - July 31 & Aug. 15 - Nov. 1 on some trails to protect ground-nesting birds and bears.

Trails open to dogs

Please check the Dog Regulations Map to view which trails are open to dogs.

Voice & Sight

Open Space and Mountain Parks is one of few systems on the Colorado Front Range which allow dog guardians to walk dogs off-leash. This opportunity is possible only if dogs are responsibly controlled under voice and sight control and display a voice and sight dog tag. It is a tough standard for both dogs and guardians. Learn about the Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program.

License dogs

City of Boulder Ordinance requires all Boulder residents to license dogs that are four months or older.

Keep Your Dog Safe

We are so lucky that OSMP lands are home to a variety of wildlife that include mountain lions, coyotes, black bears, deer, foxes and prairie dogs! Part of keeping control of your dog is keeping it away from wildlife for the benefit of wildlife and your pup. Not sure what your dog will do when encountering wildlife on Open Space? Play it on the safe side and leash your pup until you or the wildlife has passed.

Ice on ponds and lakes

You can help to keep you and your pets safe by keeping them off OSMP's icy lakes. Many times, pets that fall into icy waters will be able to get out or self-rescue without assistance.

If it happens to you while visiting OSMP and your pet is unable to get out of the water, stay off the ice! Call 911 and Boulder Fire-Rescue will respond and rescue your pet!

Summer Safety Tips

Heat can kill dogs: Walk your dog in the early morning or evening when it is cooler. If you choose to walk your dog in the mid-day heat, find a shady trail, stop often, and bring plenty of extra water for your dog.

Know the signs of heat emergency

  • Excessive panting
  • Lying down often/unwilling or unable to get up
  • Dark red gums/later pale gums
  • Dry mucous membranes and/or thick saliva
  • Disoriented or unstable

Immediate action could save your dog

  • Get your dog into the shade immediately.
  • Cool your dog with cool wet rags on their body, especially head and feet.
  • Try to get your dog to drink, but do not force water into their mouth.
  • Use cool but not freezing cold water or ice on the body. Cooling the body too quickly with very cold water or ice can cause blood vessels to constrict resulting in the internal temperature rising even further.
  • Call or visit your vet right away.

Other safety tips

  • While it may seem like innocent fun to allow your dog to chase prairie dogs… “they’ll never catch them anyway!”… it’s against the law to do so and you could face a hefty fine! Keep your dog away from prairie dogs on prairie dog colonies!
  • Did you remember to bring water for your hike? Good job! Don’t forget to bring water for your pup too! Every year Rangers respond to heat related dog emergencies. Keep your dog hydrated, consider hiking on shady trails and if your dog gets overheated, put cool water on their paws to help them cool down.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a car during warm weather. When it's 85 degrees out, the temperature inside of a car can heat up to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and can reach 120 degrees in half an hour.
  • When rock climbing or bouldering, make sure you or someone in your party is with your dog. It is illegal to leave your dog tied up while you enjoy your climb.
  • Check yourself and your dog for ticks in the spring.
  • Make sure to vaccinate your dog for rabies to ensure the safety of you, your dog, and others on the trail.

Frequently Asked Questions

OSMP is participating in a dog waste composting program at several trailheads and access points. Compostable bags and waste receptacles are located at several popular trailheads and access points:

  • Dry Creek Trailhead
  • Bobolink Trailhead
  • Mount Sanitas
  • Eagle Trailhead
  • South Teller Trailhead
  • Marshall Mesa Trailhead
  • South Mesa Trailhead
  • Sawhill Ponds Trailhead
  • Chautauqua at start of Bluebell Road
  • Wonderland Lake Trailhead
  • Four Pines Access
  • Shanahan - Lehigh Access
  • Wonderland - Utica Access
  • East Boulder Gunbarrel Access (Boulderado & Cambridge)
  • West South Boulder Creek Trailhead
  • North Teller Trailhead
  • Boulder Valley Ranch Trailhead
  • Cottonwood Trailhead
  • Eagle Trail - Access 1/2 mile N of Foothills Trailhead

Composting reduces the amount of dog waste going to landfills and helps transform that waste into a beneficial compost mixture. A local business is doing the composting for OSMP!

Besides its bad smell, dog waste can pollute water sources and encourage noxious weeds to grow.

Waste left on the ground runs off untreated into storm drains and waterways. Bacteria in waterways increase the potential for serious disease. This is bad for fish too – bacteria that feed on dog waste deplete oxygen, and encourage algal blooms. This can limit sunlight and suffocate aquatic life.

Dog feces contain nitrogen which can cause significant chemical changes in soil composition. When left on the ground, nitrogen leaches into the soil. This can kill native plants and encourage noxious weed infestation.

Dogs also have a wide diversity of intestinal bacteria. These often times carry nasty parasites like heartworms, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, parvovirus, giardia, salmonella and E. coli. Roundworm is one of the most common parasites found in dog waste. It can remain infectious in contaminated soil and water for years.

Be Doggone Good About Dog Poop

  • Always pack out your dog’s poop and dispose of it properly.
  • Carry extra poop bags with you at all times.
  • Compost your dog’s poop in OSMP dog waste receptacles.
  • Carry a sealable bag with you to cut down on the smell.