Hodophiles Will Love These 6 Amazingly Scenic Hikes Near Fort Collins! 

With all the chaos and constant stimulation around us, finding peace of mind is more challenging than ever. The more stress we put on ourselves, the worse off our health becomes. In order to regenerate, both the mind and body require moments of silence. Hiking is one of the best ways to find mental stillness, which helps us cope with the standards of survival in the modern world.

To refresh my mind and reduce pressure, I often venture outside and hit one of the many hikes near Fort Collins. Indeed, the city is famous for having a vibrant craft beer industry, but it’s also home to top-notch trails, wilderness areas, and exceptional outdoor adventures. 

Well, that’s something only the locals are supposed to know, but I want to share it with you guys, too! Whether you are looking for a leisurely walk in nature or some daring adventures that will leave you breathless, there is undoubtedly a Fort Collins hike for you on this list.  

HikeDifficultyDistance from FC 
Arapaho Bend TrailEasy16 minutes drive
Devil’s Backbone Natural TrailEasy26 minutes drive
Arthur’s Rock TrailModerate37 minutes drive
Horsetooth Rock TrailModerate23 minutes drive
Grey Rock TrailDifficult12 minutes drive
Sky Pond – Glacier Gorge TrailDifficult1 hour 24 minutes drive

Hikes Near Fort Collins – Arapaho Bend Trail 

Arapaho Bend Trail Fort Collins
Arapaho Bend Trail – Source: Luci Westphal
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Distant from Fort Collins: 16 minutes drive.
  • Elevation gain: 9 m.
  • Length: 6.6 km.
  • Route type: Loop.

Let’s start with the most popular hike for beginners, the Arapaho Bend Trail. With a reasonable length of 6.6 km, this paved trail takes only 1 hour to complete. An ideal choice for families who seek a quick escape from city life, I’d say. 

Along the way, you can see a series of small lakes and ponds. It’s also a terrific spot for wildlife watching: There are 80 species of birds that call this area home, as well as various mammals (including turtles) basking along the shore. That’s more than enough for a family adventure, but if you still want more, the historic Strauss Cabin is only a bridge away from the hike! 

Aside from hiking, the Arapaho Bend Trail is also perfect for biking, horseback riding, and fishing. 

Devil’s Backbone Natural Trail 

  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Distant from Fort Collins 26 minutes drive.
  • Elevation gain: 172 m.
  • Length: 6.9 km.
  • Route type: Out and back.

If you are thinking that “Devil’s Backbone” is such a cool name, I can assure you that this trail will back it up! Nestled in Loveland, this is one of the most spectacular hikes near Fort Collins

Devil’s Backbone Trail, Fort Collins
If you visit the Devil’s Backbone Trail in spring, you can see many species of flowers in Fort Collins – Source: TripAdvisor

Wildflowers carpeting grassland, towering rock formations, and breathtaking views from rocky outcrops are just some striking natural features to enjoy along the way. The trail is kid-friendly, and dogs are allowed on leashes. Aside from hiking, it also has spaces for mountain biking, wildlife watching, and even special types of hunting. Yes, there is something for everyone here!

Because of that, though, the parking lot might be full on a busy summer weekend. The high season often falls in July and August, so if you plan to visit the Devil’s Backbone during this time, make sure to arrive early. Also, the route can be muddy or snow-covered at times, so I’d recommend checking the trail’s condition in advance.

Hikes Near Fort Collins – Arthur’s Rock Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Distant from Fort Collins: 37 minutes drive. 
  • Elevation gain: 305 m. 
  • Length: 5.5 km.
  • Route type: Out and back.

Located in the Lory State Park, the trail got its name from Arthur Howard – the former owner of this land. In 1967, along with his brother Charlie Howard, Arthur sold the piece of land to the State of Colorado. 

Nowadays, hikers, bikers, photographers, and nature lovers all come to enjoy this gem and embark on endless outdoor fun. According to Alicia Goddard, park naturalist and environmental educator, “the hike is simply gorgeous”

Arthur’s Rock Trail winds its way through open meadows, lush pine forests, and jaw-dropping mountain views. A wonderful natural stairway will lead you to the top of the rock, providing an ideal setting for a picnic. After a rather long hike, nothing is more satisfying than having a delicious lunch with your loved ones while admiring the panoramic view of the city! 

Arthur’s Rock Trail Fort Collins
Going picnic on top of Arthur’s Rock should be on top of your Fort Collins bucket list – Source: Colorado Parks And Wildlife

The trail is not kid-friendly but not too intimidating for beginners. Just remember to bring enough water and sunscreen. Dogs are allowed on a leash. 

Horsetooth Rock Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Distant from Fort Collins: 23 minutes drive.
  • Elevation gain: 483 m.
  • Length: 10.3 km.
  • Route type: Out and back

The Horsetooth Rock can be found atop Horserock Mountain, and it’s the peak in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Park. Although it’s not a long trail, what’s waiting for you is a fairly arduous journey. Nonetheless, you will find it worth every step. 

The Horsetooth Mountain trailhead is the beginning of your hike. For a more leisurely walk, take the foot-travel-only path. Both are nicely maintained, but the foot-travel route has a series of stairs and switchbacks along the way, making it easier for beginners. 

From here, you’ll ascend through a lush green meadow on the dirt path flanked with tall grass and cattails. This paints a lovely picture, especially during a balmy summer day. When the sun shines on the western side of the mountains in the foothills, the landscape opens up behind you to the South. You can catch a glimpse of Horsetooth Reservoir, glittering in the sunshine as it stretches across the land.

But the most striking sight is when you reach the top. If you have good timing, watching the sunset from the rock will be the best way to wrap up a fantastic day hike. The sunset in Fort Collins is truly amazing, filling the sky with blasts of pink and fiery orange. Make sure you stick around for the show! 

Horsetooth Rock Trail – Hiking Guide

Hikes Near Fort Collins – Grey Rock Trail 

Grey Rock Trail
Grey Rock Trail is the place to go if you want to take in all the beauty of mountains Fort Collins Colorado – Source: Uncover Colorado
  • Difficulty: Difficult. 
  • Distant from Fort Collins: 12 minutes drive.
  • Elevation gain: 737 m. 
  • Length: 11.6 km.
  • Route type: Loop.

Located right up the Poudre Canyon – one of the biggest canyons in the U.S. alongside the North Rim Grand Canyon and Hells Canyon, the Grey Rock Trail is one of the lesser-known hikes near Fort Collins

Well, that’s because locals don’t want to share this hidden gem with anyone! Grey Rock Trail is not the best choice for novices due to its steepness, and it will give you 737 m of elevation along the way. To make up for the leg burn, there are plenty of spots to take a break and dip your feet in the river, such as Picnic Rock and Gate Way Mountain Park. 

Greeting hikers at the top is a fantastic view of the surrounding area. From there, you can spot many iconic landmarks, such as the canyon and the Mommy Range. Camps and fires are allowed, so if you want to spend the night and make some special memories with your family or friends, don’t forget to pack your camping cots

Sky Pond – Glacier Gorge Trail

  • Difficulty: Difficult.
  • Distant from Fort Collins: 1 hour 24 minutes drive. 
  • Elevation gain: 197 m.
  • Length: 5.3 km. 
  • Route type: Loop.

Just above Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Parks are Sky Pond and The Lake of Glass – the two most beautiful lakes in Fort Collins. If you start your adventure at the Glacier Gorge Trail and hike all the way to the Sky Pond, you will be rewarded with a jaw-dropping lake view. 

Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail: Prep for this Epic Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park!

The route up to the Sky Pond is a challenging one. Since it’s a steep scramble to the right side of a cascade, hikers will find it very slick. Good footwear is required, and there is only room for one person at a time to pass through the scramble. According to most users on TripAdvisor, hikers will struggle more on the way down. 

The effort is worthwhile, though: Along the way, you will come across all kinds of natural wonders, such as alpine lakes, waterfalls, marvelous stream crossings, fun rivers, and mountain vistas. As user “Bet543210” wrote, “there won’t be any boring moment on this hike” since each step will lead you to a spectacular view. Definitely a must-go on your Fort Collins hiking bucket list! 

Lace Up Your Boots And Let’s Go! 

These hikes near Fort Collins have a lot to offer. They are tranquil, beautiful, and authentic – just exactly what you need to reconnect with nature and find peace of mind. 

If you ever feel worn out by the hustle and bustle of the modern world, try to take a break from all those screens and engage in a hiking excursion this weekend. As you explore the wilderness without any apps, gadgets, or notifications, you will find a sense of freedom and regain lost balance. Both your mind and body will thank you for that! 

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