25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins (for 2023)
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!
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins
- Red Fox Meadows Natural Area
- Dixon Reservoir Loop
- Horsetooth Falls Loop
- Overlook Trail via Foothills Trail
- The “A”
- Arapaho Bend Trail
- Coyote Ridge Trail
- Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail
- Cathy Fromme Fossil Creek Trail
- Lady Moon Trail to Molly Lake
- Mount Margaret Trail
- Soapstone Prairie Loop
- Pronghorn Loop Trail
- Black Powder Trail
- Arthur’s Rock Trail
- Mt. McConnel Trail
- Killpecker Trail
- Reservoir Ridge Trail
- Lower Dadd Gulch Trail
- Horsetooth Rock Trail
- Greyrock Trail
- Hewlett Gulch Trail
- Lory State Park Loop Trail
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25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins
Red Fox Meadows Natural Area
A nice stroll through a neighborhood park
🥾 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.
🥾 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
🥾 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.
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
🥾 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
🥾 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
🥾 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
🥾 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
🥾 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
🥾 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
🥾 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.
🥾 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!
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
🥾 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
🥾 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.
⛰️ Read Next: Best Fort Collins Day Trips
A strenuous trail with amazing views
🥾 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
🥾 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!
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