Hike up to Reservoir Ridge

Heath on Horsetooth Reservoir Ridge Trail, For...
Heath on Horsetooth Reservoir Ridge Trail, Fort Collins, Colorado (Photo credit: Yann Ropars)

Perhaps over break you all went on a bunch of mountain adventures. Or maybe the frigid cold deterred you from hitting the trails. If that’s the case, I have good news for you!  It looks like there is going to be a bit of a thaw this weekend across the Front Range, so if you are not carving the slopes, consider exploring some of the spaces right here in FoCo.

A quick disclaimer: we are definitely talking about winter hiking conditions now. This means a lot of snow-cover on trails as well as some large icy patches. I recommend using trekking poles for stability. If you are planning on hiking in particularly icy conditions, I recommend using some kind of traction system on your boots.

Since you all have loads of catching up to do with friends, school supplies to buy and real life things to take care of, I recommend a hike not too far out of town. This weekend will be sunny and not too cold. It’ll be a great opportunity to hit the dusty trail that loops up into the foothills just north of Horsetooth Reservoir.

The trail starts out just outside the northwest side of town and heads west up a slight incline towards a little valley in the foothills. Wide open spaces encircle the entire trail, and only the shadow of passing clouds give the writhing grass shade. You’ll then pitch upwards slightly while the trail gets a little more rocky and narrow at this point. When you arrive at a fork in the trail, keep to the right and continue up the valley. After a few switchbacks, the forested ridge of Lory State Park will appear over the crest of the hill, from across the reservoir.

There is a wonderful view from the top; you can see all of the reservoir, Horsetooth Rock, Arthur’s Rock and the eastern edge of the burn from the High Park Fire. The trail loops downward along the other side of the hill, following beautiful vistas until the trail heads east again.  You’ll climb back over the top of the foothills and weave downwards, getting a sprawling view of Fort Collins. You’ll come back to that fork in the trail, and head back to the trailhead the way you came.

This is not a difficult trip by any means, but it is surprisingly secluded. I usually come here and encounter no one along the way. It is a great place to clear your thoughts, and maybe mentally prepare yourself for another semester.