Parks, Open Space and Trails
- There are many ways citizens can become involved including participating in public meetings to help develop parks, contributing time and/or money, gifting, or simply enjoying our natural areas. To learn more about specific opportunities, please visit our Get Involved webpage or contact Parks, Open Space and Trails.
- Yes, metal detecting is permitted in our public parks, however no digging is allowed.
Overall, the rule is based on State Health Department requirements because water quality monitoring is not conducted at any park water body, except Union Reservoir. In addition, there are also varying reasons why certain water bodies do not allow swimming. For example, in the case of Lake McIntosh, the City does not own this lake, but holds a recreational lease with the ditch company which allows certain activities.
Visit Recreation Services to find more information on a variety of swimming options - both indoor and out - available in Longmont.
Our goal is to follow best irrigation practices while also conserving our water. We monitor the weather regularly and shut off irrigation systems when indicated by the weather forecast and anticipated rain accumulation.
- It is the City's goal to maintain and enhance native habitats, conserve water and to enrich residents' enjoyment of the greenways and nature areas. Learn more about standards used in greenway maintenance by visiting our Park Maintenance webpage.
- Hours vary depending on the classification of park (or trail) you're visiting. You can view a complete list of parks broken out by type (neighborhood, community, or nature area) on our Classification of Parks webpage.
Neighborhood & Community Parks
Hours are from 5 am - 11 pm, seven days a week.
Nature Areas, Dog Parks, and Greenway Lands
Hours are 1 hour before sunrise and 1 hour after sunset, seven days a week.
Greenway Trails are open for use 24 hours provided that the user is staying on the trail and continuously moving through the site.
Parks Administration Office
Hours are from 7:00 am – 3:30 pm, Monday – Friday.
The Parks Admin Office is closed to walk-in visitors. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Discover Longmont's many, diverse parks and trails through our Directory of Parks & Trails.
- Spray water features are generally turned on beginning Memorial Day weekend. They operate daily from 8 am – 8 pm through Labor Day. To find a list of parks with spray water features, visit our Directory of Parks and select the amenity: spray water feature.
- All recreational activity and use information related to this reservoir can be found on the Union Reservoir Park webpage.
Park restrooms close each October in advance of winter’s frost to prevent damage to the above-ground plumbing, which is not designed to withstand winter temperatures. The City places portable toilets in several high traffic areas for use throughout the winter. These facilities are cleaned and stocked once per week from November to April.
For more information, visit the Parks Public Restroom webpage.
The paved greenways and trails represent Longmont's transportation network for bicycles and pedestrians. Unpaved paths generally go into City open space and the more natural areas where it is our goal to minimize maintenance and disturbances to wildlife. These areas include unpaved paths around McIntosh Lake, Golden Ponds, and the Jim Hamm Nature Area to name a few. We also don't mow along most of those paths for the same reason, to maintain habitat and minimize disturbances.
It should be noted that plowing unpaved trails is also not a maintenance best-practice. Plowing before freezing damages the trail, and plowing after snow hardens requires heavier equipment with ballast. Not only is that a much more expensive operation, it also has the potential to damage the trail.
For details about what paths we do plow and how they fall in the Parks Snow & Ice Control Plan, visit our Parks Snow Plan webpage.
Resilient St. Vrain Project
This extensive, multi-year undertaking is anticipated to take 7-10 years to complete. Work will be completed in sections, moving upstream. The timeline includes periods for vegetation regrowth to protect natural habitat as sections are completed, as well as work to secure additional funding.
Learn more on the Resilient St. Vrain Areas of Work & Schedule webpage.
The cost for work to rebuild the St. Vrain Greenway and to restore and revitalize the St. Vrain Creek channel is estimated between $120 million and $140 million. Partial project funding for Resilient St. Vrain is coming from a variety of sources.
- $20 million in voter-approved Storm Drainage Bonds
- Additional funding will come from a combination of existing City funds (including the 3/4-cent Street Fund tax), plus monies from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Highway Administration, State, County and Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding.
The City continues to seek grants and other funding possibilities to fully fund this long-term and extensive project to protect the community.
Learn more on the Resilient St. Vrain Funding webpage.
Work is progressing from downstream to upstream. Learn more on the Resilient St. Vrain Areas of Work & Schedule webpage.
It's St. Vrain Creek. Geographical names are assigned by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (part of the U.S. Geological Survey), which has designated the body of water that runs through Longmont as St. Vrain Creek. Learn more about how the geographic names program works here, or view the USGS feature detail report for St. Vrain Creek here. The creek begins at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain Creeks in Lyons and flows east to join the South Platte River northwest of Platteville. Along the way, Left Hand Creek and Boulder Creek flow into the St. Vrain Creek as well.
Resilient St. Vrain is the City of Longmont’s extensive, multi-year undertaking to fully restore the St. Vrain Greenway trails and improve the St. Vrain Creek channel to protect people and property from future flooding. Without these improvements, vulnerable portions of our community remain at risk for flood damage.
Learn more on the Resilient St. Vrain webpage.
Construction is well underway on the Resilient St. Vrain project. Visit the Areas of Work & Schedule webpage for details.
- Hundreds of thousands of native species are being planted as part of work on Resilient St. Vrain. These include trees, grasses, forbs, shrubs, and other plant varieties. View this list of plant species to get an idea of some of the varieties being incorporated into the project. (Note: List is subject to change as additional plants are included.)
- Design plans for Resilient St. Vrain use 100-year flood flows and the 100-year floodplain as benchmarks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local agencies use the 100-year floodplain in regulatory processes related to building permits and environmental regulations, as well as for setting flood insurance requirements and costs.
Learn more on Resilient St. Vrain's Conveying 100-Year Flood Flows webpage.
- A major flood event in September 2013 severely impacted Longmont, especially along the St. Vrain Creek. This flooding affected many properties within and outside of the floodplain. A flood event of this magnitude had not been experienced in Longmont since 1894, and it served as a reminder that the risk of major flood events is real and ever-present. From the disaster comes the opportunity to protect the community while restoring the St. Vrain Creek channel and improving its resilience to future flooding.
Learn more on the Resilient St. Vrain webpage.
St. Vrain Creek Recreational Activities
Residents and visitors are welcome and encouraged to pursue recreational water activities along parts of the St. Vrain Creek through Longmont. There is no charge to float along the St. Vrain Creek.
Users must provide their own float devices, such as tubes, kayaks or small non-motorized boats. Users are also encouraged to wear safety equipment, including helmets and personal flotation devices.
The distance from the access point at Main Street (in Dickens Farm Nature Area) to the takeout just east of Martin Street is approximately 0.6 miles in the water and an approximate 0.75-mile walk from the takeout point back to the access point.
The float from Main Street to the 119th Street Trailhead takeout is approximately 1.5 miles with an approximately 1.8-mile walk back along the St. Vrain Greenway trail.
There is no cost to use the St. Vrain Creek or the float course that begins at Dickens Farm Nature Area. Users must provide their own float devices, such as tubes, kayaks or small non-motorized boats.
Parking options include a centrally located parking lot at Dickens Farm Nature Area accessed from Boston Avenue and on-street parking along Boston. Public parking spots are available north of the Harvest Junction North shopping center (near Walgreens, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods). These public spots are labeled. Any other parking is at the user’s own risk.
There is no public parking located near the takeout downstream of Martin Street (near BioLife Plasma Services, Taco Bell and Hilton Garden Inn).
If desired, users can float past the Martin Street takeout to the 119th Street Trailhead, where an additional takeout point is located. Public parking is available at the 119th Street trailhead, which is located on the western side of 119th Street, south of Ken Pratt Boulevard and north of the St. Vrain Creek.
Weed & Pest Management
- Pesticides include both natural and synthetic formulations, but either type can present hazards to organisms or habitat if not used correctly. Pesticides are closely regulated via the Federal Insecticide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The regulatory process for pesticides is similar to the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts and focuses on protecting human health and the environment. Pesticides are registered and re-registered on 15-year cycles. Pesticide registration requires that those seeking approval fund private and independent health studies to verify safety. Regulatory agencies such as the EPA and Center for Disease Control (CDC) also commission epidemiology studies for pesticides used in food production or for other widespread commercial purposes. Although no technology is entirely risk-free, pesticides are safe to use when applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions and by licensed pesticide applicators. Household pesticides are typically formulated in lower strengths for application by non-licensed persons, but by law, still must be used according to the instructions. Any person not using pesticides according to the label instructions is subject to fines and/or prosecution.
- The State of Colorado requires the complete eradication of some noxious weeds and the control of many other weeds. Noxious weeds spread fairly quickly and damage valuable habitat or crowd out desired native vegetation. As of March 2017, there are currently 145 weed species included on the Colorado Noxious Weed list, and 25 of those weeds are required to be eradicated upon detection. The City of Longmont also has a weed ordinance that applies to all land within the City limits included land owned by the City.
- Yes, Longmont City Council passed a resolution recognizing the importance of protecting and supporting pollinators. The resolution includes goals such as minimizing pesticide use on City lands, eliminating the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides except for cases where other treatment options don’t exist to protect valuable trees, protection of pollinator habitat, and so forth. The resolution can be read in its entirety here.
- Yes, Longmont developed and updates an integrated weed management plan that directs staff activities and planning concerning the treatment of weeds on City property. That plan balances the requirement to eliminate noxious weeds and control nuisance weeds with goals to minimize the use of pesticides and protect valuable pollinator habitat. The City’s Integrated Weed Management Plan can be found here.
- A summary of spraying activities and locations can be found at bit.ly/weed-pest-management. This list is updated every time a treatment is planned.
- Pesticides or any chemical for that matter used around humans will most likely be controversial to someone - particularly chemicals that are used for food production or otherwise have the potential to be ingested (such as pharmaceuticals or plastic residuals from plastic bottles). The research evidence overwhelmingly supports that pesticides currently in use in the U.S. are safe when used according to the manufacturer instructions and for applications for which they are approved. Pesticides have been in use in the U.S. dating back to 1900. They are generally correlated with positive health outcomes such as the control of rodents and insects that carry disease, modern food production, and the reclamation of habitat that had been lost through natural and man-made disturbances. When used incorrectly they can present hazards. Industries and organizations that use pesticides in their businesses are in agreement that the pesticides should be used only when and where absolutely necessary and in the smallest effective amounts possible. The greatest concern is the impacts on non-target organisms when pesticides are used incorrectly and by unqualified persons. Most pesticide applications in parks and other public areas in Longmont are done during low use times and with advance and concurrent notification. Most pesticides emit an odor, and exposure to that odor does not indicate a negative exposure to pesticides.
How does pesticide use in a City compare to agricultural or other commercial types of pesticide application?Cities use very small amounts of pesticides compared to commercial operations. In fact, residents treating their own lawns and shrubs in most cities likely use considerably more pesticides than municipal operations would when taken in total. Most municipal operations spot-spray small amounts of pesticides on single weed plants or small clusters of weeds with a fairly minimal amount of broadcast spraying from vehicles or backpack sprayers. Aerial techniques such as spraying from planes or from commercial irrigation systems that spray pesticides high into the air are not used in cities. Commercial operations can be of greater health concerns for non-target organism impacts because of the high volumes of pesticides used and the longer range delivery systems.
- Relatively small amounts of glyphosate-based compounds are used in City parks. Most of these are small spot applications used to protect new young trees and shrubs from weed encroachment. Glyphosate is currently in the EPA’s re-registration process.
- As mentioned before, any pesticide that is not used correctly by qualified persons can potentially impact non-target organisms such as pollinating insects. Most impacts of concern to pollinators come from large commercial operations and not typical municipal uses. Neonicotinoid (neonic) based pesticides are a classification of pesticides that are of specific concern for potential impacts to pollinating insects. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been used sparingly in recent years in Longmont and only for a few root and trunk injections to trees – they are not used in spray applications in City operations. Neonicotinoid based pesticides are currently in the EPA’s re-registration process.
Weeds are important early succession species that generally pave the way for the establishment of permanent native species after the ground has been disturbed by fire, landslides or other natural disturbances. Unfortunately, with population growth and spreading urbanization, natural ecological processes are interrupted. Vegetated areas in cities like Longmont are generally small in size and fragmented across the urban landscape compared to national forests, state and national parks, preserved grasslands, and other large natural areas. As a result, the natural succession cycle from weed to permanent vegetation is never fully completed in urban areas, and communities must intervene if they hope to establish healthy vegetation. That intervention frequently requires the removal of weeds.
- Pesticides usage in Longmont focus primarily on weed control to preserve natural habitat, ensure compliance with State and local weed ordinances, and to provide quality turf conditions for safe recreational use. They are used infrequently to control some pests such as when pathogens such as West Nile Virus are detected in mosquito populations. Learn more in our Integrated Pest Management Plan.
In general, the City does not eradicate weeds for aesthetic purposes. However, some weeds can be undesirable for human-related activities. For example, uneven surfaces caused by broad-leaf weeds on sports fields can be dangerous to recreationalists and athletes. Weeds that grow stickers or that are poisonous to humans and their pets are also not desirable in City parks. Longmont tries to maintain Neighborhood and Community Parks in conditions that are conducive to sports and general recreational and leisure activities.
- The City only sprays for dandelions in shrub beds and athletic turf areas (for player safety). The City’s goal is to never spray grass areas where the public can recreate. Dandelions are not classified as a noxious weed by the Colorado Department of Ag and therefore are not required to be sprayed. The City of Longmont will use other non-chemical methods to limit the amount of dandelions found in grass areas on City property.
- Weed control is generally achieved through multiple control methods including prevention via proper cultivation, removal using mechanical techniques, and prevention or eradication using pesticides depending on the application. Mechanical methods include mowing, tilling, hand pulling, steam treatment, and other similar techniques. Some mechanical methods such as mowing only delay the onset of weeds because seeds and roots aren’t removed. Mechanical methods that remove the entire plant and prevent reproduction are effective but very expensive and can cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to treat just a few acres. Pesticides, on the other hand, are designed to work efficiently and systemically on weeds. They are generally inexpensive and can be applied either as spot treatments on a single weed or sprayed to target the spread of weeds in large areas.
IPMP is reviewed annually to see what new options and techs are available to controls.