Two people having a hike in Fort Collins

25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins (for 2022)

Fort Collins, Colorado is an awesome hiking destination. There are endless hikes near Fort Collins to explore, the wilderness areas near Red Feather Lakes and Poudre Canyon are top-notch, and the mountains closer to Fort Collins are super unique even when compared to Denver, Boulder, or Colorado Springs.

As a Colorado local, one of my favorite ways to see the state is to get outside and hit one of the many hiking trails Colorado offers!

Hiking is definitely one of the top things to do in Fort Collins. So, whether you’re popping out for a quick after-work hike on one of the walking trails in Fort Collins, trying to run off some steam with kids, or looking for a serious lung-busting hike up a mountain, I’ve got a Fort Collins hike for you on this list. 

Lace up your boots and let’s go!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins

Red Fox Meadows Natural Area

A nice stroll through a neighborhood park

View of an eagle on a tree in Red Fox Meadows Natural Area
A hospitable place for eagles!

Easy | 1 mile | Google Maps | Park Website | 11 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Red Fox Meadows Natural Area is a leisurely stroll through a neighborhood natural area that’s great for people of most abilities. This hike features an outdoor classroom and boardwalk that’s great for kids, and a sculpture in the Outfall Structure depicts a heron. This is also a nice spot for birdwatching. 

📚 Related Reading: If you’re planning on visiting more of Colorado, check out our Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide

Dixon Reservoir Loop

An easy walk around a reservoir

Easy | 2.1 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 15 min from downtown Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Dixon Reservoir Loop is a short hike that winds around Dixon Reservoir with almost no elevation gain. Given its flat surface, it’s a good hike for people of most abilities, and dogs are even allowed on a leash here. 

Expect to encounter runners and mountain bikers on this trail, and it’ll take roughly about an hour to complete.

Horsetooth Falls Loop 

A Horsetooth Mountain Open Space hike to a pretty waterfall.

View of water flows on the Horsetooth Falls
The water flow at Horsetooth Falls depends on the season

Easy | 2.9 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 31 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: $9 per vehicle 

The Horsetooth Falls Loop is an almost-three-mile hike that takes you past rocky outcroppings to Horsetooth Falls before looping back to the trailhead. It’s one of the popular trails through Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (the falls themselves are gorgeous), and you can bring your dog if you keep them on a leash.

This trail is rated as moderate difficulty and will take roughly an hour and a half to complete.

👉 My Favorite Gear: Trekking poles are a HUGE help when you’re navigating rocks, or just to take some pressure off your knees. I love my hiking pole set from REI

Overlook Trail via Foothills Trail

An easy out and back trail near Maxwell Natural Area

View from the Maxwell Recreation Area during a cloudy morning
A cloudy day at Maxwell Recreation Area

Easy | 3.9 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 18 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Overlook Trail via Foothills Trail hike is a relatively flat stroll to an overlook off the Foothills Trail. The trail is out and back and is very popular for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking so be ready for some company. 

Though an easier route, the trail is open off-and-on year-round but can close when it’s too muddy or wet, so be sure to check the website before planning a hike.

The “A”

See a bit of Colorado State University history

Easy | 4.1 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 14 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

For a great view of the city and the Horsetooth Reservoir, take a hike up to the “A”. The painted “A” on this ridge above Fort Collins is from the days when CSU was the Colorado Agricultural College, and the mascot was The Aggies. Although their mascot is now The Rams, the “A” remains, and each incoming freshman class makes an occasion of repainting the letter.

If you take the Foothills Trail from Maxwell Natural Area, follow the signs to hike to the spot above the letter.

Arapaho Bend Trail

A nice walk around small lakes and Rigden Reservoir

A seat on the scenic area of Arapaho Bend Natural Area
A lovely place to rest at Arapaho Bend Natural Area

Easy | 4.1 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 17 min from Fort Collins | Cost: free

A suburban Trail, Arapaho Bend is paved in some parts and is popular for fishing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. This hike will take you around several small lakes and ponds before becoming a larger loop around Rigden Reservoir. 

Dogs are allowed on a leash and it’s near I-25, so you may hear some freeway traffic, but the natural area is pleasant. 

Coyote Ridge Trail

An easy hike through the foothills

View of a hiker on top of a Coyote Ridge Trail during winter season

Easy | 4.1 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 20 min drive from Fort Collins 

An out-and-back hike, the Coyote Ridge Trail is open year-round and though is mostly a dirt path, has some rocky bits near the top. The trail has full exposure so it gets hot in summer, and is a popular hiking and running trail so you’ll likely see others out there. 

Be sure to watch for deer and other wildlife along the way.

Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail

Mild elevation gain and cool rock formations

View of the Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail sign on the entrance
(photo: Rexjaymes / Shutterstock)

Easy | 4.3 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 27 min from Fort Collins |  Cost: $10 per vehicle

Devil’s Backbone Open Space is in nearby Loveland, an area with several trails. The Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail is kid-friendly and dogs are allowed on a leash, and is also open to mountain biking and horseback riding.

Just keep in mind that, depending on the season, this route can get muddy and/ or snow-covered. I recommend checking the trail conditions beforehand, and bringing crampons if it’s icy.

Cathy Fromme Fossil Creek Trail

An easy, paved trail through grassland

View of a biking trail in Cathy Fromme Fossil Creek Trail

Easy | 5 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 13 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Cathy Fromme Fossil Creek Trail is a paved trail that makes it a great option for bikers, hikers, and trail runners. Being paved means you’ll encounter less mud during spring. Dogs are allowed on a leash, although the trail has very little shade and can get hot in summer. 

You’ll get some nice views of the reservoir as well.

📚 Related Reading: If you’re traveling to Fort Collins, be sure to check out this Colorado packing list, which includes items people tend to forget when they visit!

Lady Moon Trail to Molly Lake

An easy but longer hike

Easy | 6.5 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 45 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Lady Moon Trail to Molly Lake trail is an easy hike out-and-back hike that will take you south for a mile on Lady Moon Trail before meeting up with the Molly Lake Trail. The trail will take you up to a saddle where you can get a great view of Lady Moon Lake. 

Be aware that the lake is on private land, so be careful of trespassing.

Mount Margaret Trail

Cross a creek and head to the base of Mt. Margaret

A small wooden bridge in Mount Margaret Trail

Easy | 7.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 46 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Mount Margaret Trail is an out and back hike that crosses South Lone Pine Creek before wandering through meadows and pines and ends up at the base of Mount Margaret. It’s a popular backpacking and camping trail and is great for cross-country skiing in winter. 

Dogs are allowed on this trail.

Soapstone Prairie Loop

Remote hike in Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

The Soapstone Prairie Natural Area sign in Fort Collins
(photo: marekuliasz / Shutterstock)

Easy | 7.3 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 39 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

Soapstone Prairie Loop is located within the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area – a region rich in cultural history that goes back 12,000 years. The prairie trail wanders the perimeter of the area and will give you excellent views from the ridge at the top, but there are plenty of shorter trails that meet up for smaller hikes.

While you’re in the area, stop by the Lindenmeier archeological site, which is a National Historic Landmark where many needles, beads, and stone tools were found that give insight into the Folsom culture. 

👉 Pro Tip: Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is closed from December-February due to winter conditions. 

Pronghorn Loop Trail

A long but easy trail at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Easy | 9.5 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 40 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

Pronghorn Loop Trail goes quite a ways, but only gains about 500 feet in elevation over the entire course, so it’s great if you’re looking for a lengthy, but easy, hike. As with the other hiking trails at Soapstone Prairie, the area is popular with mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Black Powder Trail

A beautiful Poudre Canyon trail with amazing views

View of a rocky river in Black Powder Trail

Moderate | 1.5 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 23 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: $7 per vehicle

The Black Powder Trail hike is an out and back hike that is also a popular fishing spot. Dogs are allowed on a leash here, and the hike crosses the Cache la Poudre River before becoming a steeper upward climb. The effort is worth it though as it’ll give you some great views of the canyon. 

Arthur’s Rock Trail

A Lory State Park hike to breathtaking views.

Overlooking view from the Arthur’s Rock Trail
View from Arthur’s Rock

Moderate | 3.4 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 40 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: $9 per vehicle

The trail to Arthur’s Rock is inside Lory State Park. Although the hike isn’t too far, you do gain just over 1,000 feet in elevation which makes it a bit of a challenge. 

You’ll also be walking not just on a dirt trail, but over some rocks and boulders on your way up the mountain. At the top, you’ll get great views of the city, Horsetooth Reservoir, and the Rocky Mountains. 

Mt. McConnel Trail

Hike through pine forest to the summit

Moderate | 4.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 47 min from Fort Collins | Cost: free, $6 for an alternate lot at Mountain Park picnic site

Mt. McConnel Trail stretches through the pine forest and offers awesome views of Rocky Mountain National Park before hitting the summit. There’s a pretty big elevation gain of 1,400+ feet so your lungs and legs will feel it.

📚 Related Reading: If you’re visiting Denver as well, check out my list of hikes near Denver for more outdoor fun!

Killpecker Trail

Hike next to a stream before heading up Middle Bald Mountain

Moderate | 4.8 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 45 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

Killpecker Trail is one of the moderate hiking trails in the area, and winds alongside Killpecker Creek before heading up Middle Bald Mountain. You’ll get beautiful views of the forest before the summit. 

👉 Pro Tip: This trail can be off-limits in bad weather – be sure to check that it’s open before planning a trip.

Reservoir Ridge Trail

A moderate trail with nice views of Horsetooth Reservoir

Scenic view from the Reservoir Ridge Trail

Moderate/Difficult | 4.8 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 14 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

The Reservoir Ridge Natural Area includes rock outcroppings, grasslands, pines, and great views of Horsetooth Reservoir and of the city. Just note that the Reservoir Ridge Trail is actually shown on the park map as the Foothills Trail, connecting to the North Loop Trail in a lollipop loop. This trail is popular with bikers and horseback riders. 

👉 Pro Tip: This trail can be closed when it’s very muddy. Be sure to check the park website before heading out. 

Lower Dadd Gulch Trail

A streamside hike through Poudre Canyon

Moderate | 7 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 56 min drive from downtown Fort Collins | Cost: free

When hiking the Lower Dadd Gulch Trail, you’ll follow a stream up Dadd Gulch before heading through the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest woods and meadows. As you climb higher, you’ll get some beautiful views of the canyon, the Cache La Poudre River, and the surrounding area. The elevation gain over 7 miles is 1,400+ feet so this is a good workout.

📚 Related Reading: If you’re looking for more great hikes, then check out my picks for the best hikes in Colorado Springs!

Horsetooth Rock Trail

A strenuous trail past Horsetooth Falls and up to the rock

View of the Horsetooth Rock
Horsetooth Rock is a recognizable landmark in the area!

Difficult | 6.4 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 31 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: $9 per vehicle

Horsetooth Rock Trail follows the Horsetooth Falls Trail for a while before heading up Horsetooth Rock. Be aware that there’s very little shade in summer, and you’ll want to bring plenty of water –  this Grayl water bottle includes a filter for on the go. 

I also recommend getting there early as this is a popular trail and the parking lot can fill up before 8 am. 

Greyrock Trail

A strenuous trail with amazing views

View of the hiking trail in Greyrock

Difficult | 7.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 26 min from Fort Collins | Cost: free

Greyrock Trail is a challenging hike that will give you almost 2,000 of the total 2,400 feet of elevation gain in just three miles. The leg burn will be worth it though, as you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city and Poudre Canyon at the top.

Hewlett Gulch Trail

A canyon hike near Gateway Natural Area

Difficult | 8.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 34 min drive from Fort Collins | Cost: free

Hewlett Gulch Trail passes foundations from homesteads that were built in the early 1900s before heading up a canyon with lots of stream crossings. Dogs are allowed on the trail and, in some places, are even allowed off-leash to explore. 

👉 My Favorite Gear: If you’re hiking with your dog, make sure he (as well as you!) stays well-hydrated! These collapsible dog bowls clip onto your pack for easy access. 

Lory State Park Loop Trail

A quiet, challenging hike with lake views

View from the Lory State Park Loop Trail during summer

Difficult | 10.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 20 min from Fort Collins | Cost: $9 per vehicle

Lory State Park Loop Trail is a challenging 10+-mile trail that features 1,700 feet of elevation gain. You have the option to take a small detour and check out Arthur’s Rock, and the rest of the hike meanders through the park. 

🥾 More Hiking Guides: Denver Hikes, Nashville Hikes, Seattle Hikes, San Diego Hikes, Puerto Rico Hikes, Hiking Checklist

***

Thanks for reading my guide to the best hikes near Fort Collins, Colorado! You can also check out my list of the best hiking trails in Colorado for more inspiration.

Hopefully, you found one, or several, hiking trails to add to your TBH (To Be Hiked) list. If you’re looking for more travel inspiration, then check out my picks for the best hot springs in Colorado!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.