Hike up to Bobcat Ridge, unless it finally snows

Bobcat Ridge Nature Area
Bobcat Ridge Nature Area (Photo credit: fotobydave)

I was going to send you all up to Rocky Mountain National to maybe squeeze in one more long hike, but then I looked at the weather forecast. Snow is on the way. Well, it is December.

Also, I considered that all of you good college students will probably spend most of your weekend studying. So, this week’s hike is much shorter and closer to Fort Collins.


This weekend, if you don’t get snowed in or buried under a pile of notes and books, head up to Bobcat Ridge. It’s only about 20 minutes from campus and can give you an amazing break from thinking about finals.

This public, natural area has a network of five trails that weave through Bobcat Gulch, the foothills on either side of it, and through a burned area from a fire back in 2000. I don’t have a specific trail recommendation for you, so check out the trail map when you get there and see what you are up for.

There is the Valley Loop Trail, which makes an oval shaped loop along the base of Bobcat Gulch. On this trail, you’ll get a wide open view of the valley and the forest hugging the slope. If it’s sunny, the grass will glow a deep golden color. However, if it snows, you’ll be in for a completely different view.

The forest will be peppered with a dusty white. Maybe the tops of the hills will disappear into a fallen cloud, heavy with snow. The gold grass will poke up in contrast from the white. Wow, I might actually be hoping for snow on this hike.

However, if you are looking for a longer escape from the approaching finals week, take the Ginny Trial. This one loops around the whole open space. It starts out skirting along the bottom of the gulch, then heads upwards into the hills. The trail pitches up and down through the whole thing. Over the crests of hills, you might see the snowy Front Range, or even the sprawl of town.
Overall, this is a very relaxed hike.

To get here, get on Harmony going west. Go all the way until you hit the foothills. You’ll curve left and start heading up the hill like you’re going to Horsetooth. Stay on this road, go around the reservoir, through some more hills. You’ll pass Horsetooth Mountain Park on the right. Keep going, and you’ll get to Masonville. Turn left on CR 27. Go about half of a mile and then veer right onto CR 32. Go another half mile and you are there. Don’t worry about a fee. It’s free!