Backyard Travel: Devil’s Backbone

Katelyn Mitchell


Devil’s Backbone (Photo courtesy of Skye Wiedow)

Colorado is one of those places where there are a million things to do pretty much anywhere you go, and Devil’s Backbone doesn’t let that reputation down.




Devil’s Backbone Open Space, directly west of Loveland, is only a half an hour drive from Fort Collins and is well worth the trip. When the park opened in 1998, they only had 6.1 acres of open space. Incredibly, the ridge property has grown and now runs all the way up from Loveland to Horsetooth, racking up to 2,198.3 acres according to the latest estimates from Larimer County.

Besides the hiking trails, the actual geological features are just mind blowing. Larimer Country has made it their mission to preserve the odd configuration of rocks so that they remain intact for generations to come.

The Keyhole, Devil’s Backbone (Photo courtesy of Skye Wiedow)

The Keyhole is the noticeable gap that has eroded away within the ridge. It’s a great photo-op for budding photographers and also makes for a great place to have a picnic. Devil’s Backbone is also home to both wildlife habitats and a rare-plant community.

All the trails are achievable for most hikers, ranging from easy to difficult. Larimer Country has created a map including all the lengths and difficulties of each trail.

The Devil’s Backbone Trail is the first one that you come to at the trail head. It is about a seven-mile round trip, rated at an easy to moderate difficulty.

About three-quarters of a mile in, there is the Wild Loop Trail. This trail takes you right up next to the ridge and The Keyhole. The little detour is only about a quarter of a mile longer. Fair warning, the Wild Loop Trail is closed in the spring due to the nesting of the ravens.


View from Devil’s Backbone (Photo courtesy of Skye Wiedow)

Four miles in from the trail head is the Blue Sky Trail, which has just recently opened for the park. From here, you can turn around and stay on the Devil’s Backbone Trail, or you can actually hike all the way up from Loveland to Horsetooth. Along this major trail are loops such as The Hunter Loop and Laughing Horse Loop, both of which are under a mile long. There is also the Indian Summer Trail, which is a two-mile trail all in itself. If you continue all the way up, The Blue Sky Trail will continue to lead you all the to Horsetooth. The total hike from the trail head to Horsetooth is a little over 15 miles one way.



Not only is Devil’s Backbone a great place for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and even dirt bikers, but family trips with the dog are more than encouraged. It truly is a trail for all.

Be sure to be prepared when hiking at any time. Bring lots of water and proper attire including shoes and snacks that match your needs, which can vary due to the length of the hike. Also, beware of snakes and other wildlife near the trail.

All in all , Devil’s Backbone is just one of the many places that can show us how incredible nature truly is, and it’s right in your own backyard. So go adventure!!

Collegian writer and Blogs Assistant Editor Katelyn Mitchell can be reached at or on Twitter at @mitch_kate_1. Leave a comment!!