Embark on a journey through the rugged beauty of Fort Collins' natural landscapes as we explore the best hiking trails this vibrant Colorado city has to offer. From tranquil strolls amidst lush greenery to exhilarating climbs with panoramic vistas, Fort Collins boasts a diverse array of hiking experiences suitable for adventurers of all skill levels. Whether you're seeking a leisurely afternoon stroll or an adrenaline-pumping wilderness trek, this guide will lead you to some of the most captivating trails in the area, each offering a unique glimpse into the breathtaking scenery and rich biodiversity that define Fort Collins' outdoor charm. Join us as we discover the hidden gems and iconic destinations that await along the winding paths of Fort Collins' top hiking trails.


Foothills Trail

Reservoir Ridge Open Space

Stretching across Pineridge, Maxwell, and Reservoir Ridge Natural Areas, the Foothills Trail weaves through some of Fort Collins' most picturesque landscapes. Particularly breathtaking is the segment that skirts the eastern perimeter of Horsetooth Reservoir, treating hikers to awe-inspiring vistas of the shimmering waters below. With a length of 9.6 miles, this trail provides a sense of remoteness amidst nature's tranquility, while also presenting ample opportunities for wildlife sightings along the way.


Horsetooth Falls

Horsetooth Falls With Dog

Photo Credit: Ashley Mathews

Nestled within the breathtaking Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, just a short distance west of Fort Collins, lies the enchanting Horsetooth Falls hike, offering some of the finest hiking experiences in the area. This scenic trail winds through expansive meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers, particularly stunning in the springtime. As you traverse the meadows, the trail gradually descends into a picturesque canyon, leading you to the mesmerizing Horsetooth Falls. Renowned for its family-friendly appeal, this hike spans less than 2.5 miles roundtrip and is graded as easy to moderate in difficulty. Consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy by the waterfall, and don't hesitate to dip your toes in the refreshing waters for an added touch of relaxation.


Arthur’s Rock


Located within the scenic confines of Lory State Park, Arthur’s Rock Trail offers unparalleled vistas of Horsetooth Reservoir and the charming city of Fort Collins. Despite its proximity to the city, this hike immerses you in a breathtaking natural backdrop. Arthur’s Rock is easily accessible by a short drive from Fort Collins, and the trail itself is of moderate length, making it ideal for intermediate hikers. Spanning approximately two miles, the trail meanders through picturesque meadows and offers sweeping mountain panoramas en route to the summit of Arthur’s Rock, standing proudly at 6,780 feet above sea level. As the trail ascends rapidly, it's essential to carry an ample water supply and take breaks as needed. Upon reaching the summit, a magnificent natural staircase awaits, leading you to the pinnacle of the rock, where you can savor a well-deserved picnic amidst the breathtaking scenery.

Gateway Natural Area

Gateway Natural Area

Situated a mere 15-minute drive from Fort Collins, Gateway Natural Area emerges as an idyllic destination for a family outing, combining the delights of picnicking and leisurely hiking along the tranquil banks of the Cache la Poudre River. Nestled within a secluded pocket, it offers respite from the bustling traffic noise of Highway 14. The hiking trails are wonderfully tailored for families, presenting gentle terrain that is easily navigable. Moreover, the area boasts abundant opportunities for water-based activities, with ample spots for kayaking, canoeing, and rafting, along with numerous fishing pockets awaiting exploration.

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Spanning nearly 19,000 acres, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area stands as a mesmerizing expanse where the vast plains converge with majestic mountains. Its sweeping landscapes offer an extensive network of trails that wind through a rich tapestry of archaeological wonders and rare flora and fauna. Providing a remote and backcountry experience, Soapstone Prairie is an unparalleled destination for hiking enthusiasts in Fort Collins. It's crucial to uphold respect for the area's cultural heritage while exploring; sticking to designated trails helps safeguard sensitive sites. Open from March to November, Soapstone Prairie beckons adventurers to immerse themselves in its awe-inspiring beauty and historical significance.


Hewlett Gulch

Hewlett Gulch Trail

Photo Credit: USDA Forest Service

The Hewlett Gulch Trail, stretching for 7.5 miles, offers a picturesque route punctuated by numerous water crossings. Renowned for its scenic beauty and refreshing river spots, it's a popular choice among hikers, especially those accompanied by their four-legged companions (as long as they're kept on a leash). With abundant opportunities for sightseeing and ample spots for cooling off in the river, the Hewlett Gulch Trail stands out as a must-experience adventure for anyone hiking in Fort Collins.


Coyote Ridge Trail

Coyote Ridge Trail

Photo Credit: Josiah Roe

Coyote Ridge presents stunning vistas of the foothills and acquaints you with the majestic hogback ridges that link open spaces to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Spanning 4.2 miles, the trail is teeming with wildlife, offering excellent opportunities for encountering various animals. Popular among mountain bikers, horseback riders, and long-distance hikers alike, Coyote Ridge is celebrated for providing an exceptional outdoor experience amidst its scenic splendor and diverse fauna.

Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

Cathy Fromme Prairie Trail

Nestled among Fort Collins' extensive array of 50+ Natural Areas, Cathy Fromme Prairie stands out as a haven for nature enthusiasts. With its sprawling Colorado prairie landscapes and picturesque vistas of the nearby foothills, this sanctuary offers a mesmerizing blend of scenic beauty. Wander through the pristine surroundings adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and keep a keen eye out for sightings of majestic bald eagles or soaring hawks adding to the area's allure. Cathy Fromme Prairie promises an immersive experience amidst its captivating natural wonders and abundant wildlife.


Eagle's Nest Open Space

Eagle's Nest Open Space

Situated along the scenic North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, Eagle's Nest Open Space boasts awe-inspiring vistas that capture the imagination. Its crown jewel, Eagle's Nest Rock, has served as a nesting site for Golden Eagles for over a century, adding a touch of historic charm to the landscape. Open year-round, this sanctuary teems with diverse wildlife and offers nearly five miles of trails catering to hikers and horseback riders alike. Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Eagle's Nest Open Space as you explore its captivating surroundings and encounter the wonders of nature.


As we conclude this exploration of the best hiking trails in Fort Collins, it's evident that our vibrant Colorado city offers an abundance of hiking adventures for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. From the serene meadows of Gateway Natural Area to the majestic panoramas atop Arthur’s Rock, each trail presents a unique opportunity to connect with nature and discover the diverse landscapes that define Fort Collins' allure. Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, Fort Collins' hiking trails beckon with their scenic beauty, rich biodiversity, and historical significance. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your water bottle, and embark on a journey of exploration and discovery amidst the breathtaking natural wonders of Fort Collins' hiking trails.