Best Hiking Trails in Fort Collins

With nearly 50 open spaces and miles of hiking trails, Fort Collins is an outdoor enthusiast's dream come true. Take a look at some of the best hikes the city has to offer. 

Two people stand on the rocky banks of the Cache la Poudre River at Gateway Natural Area in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Admiring the Cache la Poudre River at Gateway Natural Area
Lush green grasses and cornflower blue skies streaked with clouds are seen at Soapstone Natural Area in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
Three people on brown horses with white blazes ride to a rocky water crossing at Hewlett Gulch near Fort Collins, Colorado.
Horseback riding in Hewlett Gulch (photo: USDA Forest Service)
Moss-covered rocks are in the foreground with the blue waters of Horsetooth Reservoir in the background at Arthur's Rock in at Lory State Park in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Arthur's Rock at Lory State Park
A glimpse of the brown waters of the Cache la Poudre River butting up to a mountain and flanked by greenery at Eagle's Nest Open Space near Fort Collins, Colorado.
The north fork of the Cache la Poudre River at Eagle's Nest Open Space
Rocks erupting from the prairie with a trail winding down through the grasses at Coyote Ridge Trail near Fort Collins, Colorado.
Coyote Ridge Trail (photo: Josiah Roe)
From a scenic stop on Cathy Fromme Prairie Trail, tall blanched prairie grasses give way to the Colorado's green plains followed by a rugged mountain ridge.
Views of the Colorado plains from Cathy Fromme Prairie Trail
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Foothills Trail

The Foothills Trail connects Pineridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge natural areas. The most scenic part of the route follows the eastern edge of Horsetooth Reservoir, offering amazing views of the glistening water. The trail is 9.6 miles long and has the feeling of being in a secluded paradise and while also offering plenty of chances to see plenty of wildlife.

Horsetooth Falls

Horsetooth Falls is a short, beautiful hike in the stunning Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, just west of Fort Collins and boasts some of the area's best hiking. This trail takes you through sprawling meadows that are filled with wildflowers during summer. Pass through the meadows to eventually drop down into a canyon that leads you to Horsetooth Falls. This trail is one of the most family-friendly hikes you will find near Fort Collins. The hike is a little less than 2.5 miles roundtrip and is rated as easy to moderate skill level. Pack a lunch and have a picnic when you get to the waterfall. And — if it's warm enough out — you might want to dip your feet in the water as well.

Arthur's Rock

Arthur’s Rock Trail offers some of the most incredible views of both Horsetooth Reservoir and the city. This hike has a spectacular natural background thanks to its location inside Lory State Park. Arthur’s Rock is a very short drive from Fort Collins and is also a moderately short, intermediate hike. At just about 3 miles in length, this trail winds through meadows that open up to excellent mountain views on the way to its summit at an elevation of 6,780 feet. The hike is known for being steep, so be sure to bring plenty of water and stop when you need to rest. You'll also find a beautiful natural stairway that leads you to the top of the rock, providing a perfect picnic setting.

Gateway Natural Area

Located just 15 minutes from Fort Collins, Gateway Natural Area is the perfect spot to bring the family for a picnic and some light hiking off the Cache la Poudre River. The hiking trails are very family friendly and fairly easy to get up and down. Plus, there are plenty of spots to drop in the water with a kayak, canoe or raft, as well as plenty of pockets to fish in. 

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is a breathtaking wide-open landscape where the plains meet the mountains, covering nearly 19,000 acres. It provides miles upon miles of trails, extensive and diverse archaeological human history as well as rare plant and animal life. Soapstone Prairie offers a remote, backcountry experience and is truly a must-visit when hiking in Fort Collins. One thing to keep in mind at Soapstone is to respect the cultural heritage. You must stay on trails to avoid damaging sensitive areas. The natural area is open from March through November.

Hewlett Gulch

Hewlett Gulch is a beautiful 7.5-mile-long trail that includes many water crossings along the path. It's locally loved by dog owners — just make sure your four-legged friends are leashed. With plenty of opportunities for great sightseeing and places to cool off in the river, this trail is a hiker's dream.

Coyote Ridge Trail

Along Coyote Ridge Trail, you'll be treated to impressive views of the foothills and will get to trek the impressive hogback ridges that connect open spaces to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The trail is 4.2 miles long and is packed with wildlife, so there's a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of some sort of animal. Coyote Ridge is pretty popular among folks looking for a great mountain biking, horseback riding or long-distance hiking experience.

Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

One of Fort Collins’ 46-plus natural areas, Cathy Fromme Prairie is a haven for naturalists. Cathy Fromme dishes up beautiful vistas of Colorado prairie, as well as views of the nearby foothills and colorful wildflowers dotted across the landscape. As you trek, keep an eye out for glimpses of a bald eagle or hawk.

Eagle's Nest Open Space

Eagle's Nest Open Space is located along the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River and it's packed with breathtaking views. Its namesake landmark, Eagle's Nest Rock, has been a nesting home to Golden Eagles for more than 100 years. This area is open year-round and is home to plenty of wildlife. It offers nearly 5 miles of trails for hikers and horseback riders alike.

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A version of this article appeared on visitfortcollins.com.