Horsetooth Mountain Park

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DSC01408 (Photo credit: knezovjb)

So this week I am, as usual, keeping you close to good old FoCo as winter weather can make the mountains quite treacherous for the ill-prepared.

Many of you are probably familiar with this week’s location, Horsetooth Mountain Park. But many believe that Horsetooth Rock is the only trail. This is unequivocally false. There is a whole web of trails that even link up with trails in Lory State Park. So, if my suggestion doesn’t fit your fancy, by all means, piece together your own.

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This week is a giant loop hike through the upper portion of the mountain park. The loop starts off in the parking lot. Take the Horsetooth Rock trail to the right, where you’ll go parallel along the hillside and then wrap behind it along a bow-like formation. Here it is very grassy and there’s very little tree cover, but that will change shortly. The diversity of environment along the trail really amazes me.

Once you gain some elevation, you’ll see all of Loveland to the southeast and Long’s Peak to the southwest. She’s all snowcapped and glowing this time of year.

After passing the Horsetooth falls trail and continuing on about 15 to 20 minutes, the Horsetooth rock Trail goes left, uphill. Continue straight along the Soderberg Trail. Here, the trail starts to go downhill.

Then the trail merges with the Spring Creek Trail and passes along a creek bed.  Nowadays it is dry and icy, but perhaps with the recent snow there will be some hollow bubbling underneath the ice. Also, along this part of the trail Horsetooth Rock looms overhead and steep slopes on each side form a valley. Maybe some snow will still cling to pine needles, making an endless gallery of lace.

After about a half mile, hang a left onto the Wathen Trail. You’ll be heading west and, as you trek along, Horsetooth Rock will appear through the trees to the left.  Arthurs Rock will do the same to the right.

You’ll hike a mile and a half and then head south along the Westridge trail, which soon turns into the Southridge trail all the way back to the parking lot.

Quick Disclaimer: Expect ice and snow on these trails. I would recommend a traction system on your boots or perhaps trekking poles.

To get here, take Harmony all the way west and up that first foothill. There is a fork in the road. Stay left. Continue around the Reservoir and a little westward. You will see the entrance on the right. Sadly, there is a $6 fee; bring friends so you can split it!