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The Best Hiking in Fort Collins (+ Breweries Nearby!)

June 19, 2022

Fort Collins is a North Colorado town known for an amazing craft beer scene, outdoor recreation and more. Plus, it is the home of Colorado State University. The city is about 60 miles north of Denver and 40 miles northeast of Rocky Mountain National Park.

In addition to craft beer and cultural activities, there are plenty of outdoor adventures nearby. You can raft the white water raft of Cache La Poudre River, paddle board on the Horsetooth Reservoir and enjoy amazing hiking trails within minutes of the city.

This guide includes 5 of the best hiking trails near Fort Collins and is based on my experience spending two weeks in Fort Collins in June 2022.

How to Prepare for Hiking near Fort Collins

Rattlesnakes are common in the Colorado foothills, especially during the summer months. Wear long pants and boots, stay on the trails and out of tall grass and be aware of your surroundings to protect yourself.

When hiking in the Colorado foothills, it is so important to stay on the trail, respect wildlife, pack out trash and follow fire restrictions. For more details on how you can respect the area, review the seven principles of leaving no trace at

If you are new to hiking, check out my beginner hiking tips! Be sure to come prepared with plenty of water, proper hiking shoes and always carry the 10 essentials.

The Best Hiking near Fort Collins

Horsetooth Falls in Horsetooth Reservoir

  • 2.9 miles
  • 580 feet of elevation gain
  • Rated moderate
  • 20 minutes from Fort Collins
  • Bathrooms at trailhead
  • $10 entrance fee
An area of red rocks with a pool of green water on the Horsetooth Falls Trail near Fort Collins.
The Rocks Above Horsetooth Falls

The Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is a beautiful area with multiple hiking trails to choose from. As you drive there from Fort Collins, you’ll get to take in incredible views of the Horsetooth Reservoir.

Horseshoe Falls is a popular trail that leads to a waterfall and the pools of water up above it. The waterfall was barely a trickle when I visited in June but it can be more powerful at other times of year.

At the base of the waterfall, you can walk behind the falling water like a cave. There is a short hike to lead you above the falls where you will find a few pools of water and a great view of the area.

The trail rises and falls in elevation and is mostly rocky and dusty surrounded by tall grass. This is a great family-friendly hike that is fun and has a great reward.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can continue on to Horsetooth Rock and hike up to amazing views of the surrounding area.

Wild Loop Trail in Devil’s Backbone

  • 2.4 miles
  • 252 feet of elevation gain
  • Rated easy
  • 30 minutes from Fort Collins
  • Bathrooms and water at trailhead
  • $10 entrance fee
An arch made up of orange rock. The inside of the arch comes to a point in the top, left corner. There is a view of green land through the arch.Lydia standing in front of the keyhole arch in the Devil's backbone Open Space.
The Keyhole

The Wild Loop Trail in the Devil’s Backbone Open Space leads to a unique rock formation in the form of a keyhole. The trail is mostly sun exposed and follows along the “backbone” rock formation to the large and unique keyhole in the rockface.

The Wild Loop Trail is relatively short and easy to follow. Many people hike to the keyhole and back, but it only adds a little bit extra hiking to complete the loop and help to protect the trail to the keyhole from overuse.

Right next to the parking lot, you will find a few shaded picnic tables where you can enjoy a snack after your hike.

Arthur’s Rock in Lory State Park

  • 3.4 miles
  • 1000 feet of elevation gain
  • Rated moderate
  • 30 minutes from Fort Collins
  • Bathrooms at trailhead
  • $9 entrance fee
A view looking down at a valley with a large reservoir full of blue water. There are many green trees in the distance.
The View from Arthur's Rock

The Arthur’s Rock trail in Lory State Park is a rewarding adventure that leads to a fantastic view of the Horsetooth Reservoir and beyond. To reach the trailhead, you’ll enter Lory State Park and drive on an unpaved road to the deepest parking lot in the park.

The trail has a relatively steady climb with several switchbacks. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a variety of scenery and some great views. In June, there were wildflowers, flowering cacti and beautiful greenery.

There is a bit of false peak one mile into the trail where you can climb onto a large rock, get a great view and take a rest. The final stretch includes another switchback and then you will climb a very short scramble to reach the top of Arthur’s Rock. On top of the rock, there is space to spread out, take in the views and eat a snack.

Arthur’s Rock is my favorite hike on this list for the rewarding views. It does get crowded so go early if you want it to yourself.

Black Powder Trail in Gateway Natural Area

  • 1.5 miles
  • 436 feet of elevation gain
  • Rated moderate
  • 20 minutes from Fort Collins
  • Bathrooms at trailhead
  • $7 entry fee
A view of a river, a mountain and green trees in the Gateway Natural Area.Lydia sitting on an area of black, jagged rocks along the Black Powder Trail in the Gateway Natural Area.
Black Powder Trail

The Black Powder Trail is a short hike that leads to a beautiful view of the Cache la Poudre River and the surrounding area. This trail is a bit steep at times but you’ll reach the peak quickly.

In addition to the river, you’ll also be able to see the Seaman Reservoir and the Spillway.

This is a really peaceful area where you’ll likely find much fewer crowds than trails like Horsetooth Falls and Arthur's Rock. The park is tucked away in the Poudre Canyon and you will likely not have cell service. This is a great area to disconnect and relax.

You can pack a lunch, bring a kayak or go fishing in addition to climbing to the peak.

Coyote Ridge Trail in Coyote Ridge Natural Area

  • 4.1 miles
  • 565 feet of elevation gain
  • Rated easy
  • 20 minutes from Fort Collins
  • No bathroom at trailhead
  • Free
Lydia sitting up on a red, rocky area along the Coyote Ridge.A view of a green valley from the Coyote Ridge Trail in Coyote Ridge Natural Area.
Views on the Coyote Ridge Trail

The Coyote Ridge Natural Area is a great place to see wildlife and explore the foothill landscape. Just a few minutes into the trail, you’ll pass a prairie dog town. In addition to the prairie dogs, I saw bunnies, deer and a snake.

This trail is relatively easy but has a gradual elevation gain at the end. It’s a popular place for trail runners and mountain bikers in addition to hikers.

At the end, you’re rewarded with a fantastic view of a large valley. You can also continue on the Rim Rock trail for a longer route.

Bonus: Places to Eat and Drink in Fort Collins

Holding up a red beer in front of the New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins.
New Belgium Brewing Company
A plate of a vegan caesar salad and a plate with mac and cheese, green and buffalo faux chicken at Tasty Harmony, a vegetarian restaurant in Fort Collins.
Tasty Harmony

Big City Burrito

Big City Burrito is a great spot to enjoy some comfort food after a hike. This unassuming restaurant serves create-your-own burritos and burrito bowls with both breakfast toppings and other varieties. In addition, they have churros, chips and salsa, rice and beans and more.

Odell Brewing Company

Odell Brewing has their main location in Fort Collins and offers tons of patio space, daily food trucks, live music and more. If beer isn’t your thing, they also have a winery next door. This is a great space that feels a bit more elevated than other breweries nearby.

New Belgium Brewing Company

This popular brewery is a great place to hang out and often has food trucks parked outside. They have a lot of outdoor seating, games like cornhole and a great variety of beer.

Tasty Harmony

If you’re a vegetarian or love vegetarian food, Tasty Harmony is the perfect place to go for dinner. They have an all-Vegetarian menu with a ton of variety. I really enjoyed the caesar salad supreme that included crispy chickpeas and grilled tofu, while my partner enjoyed the mac and cheese with buffalo cauliflower.

Two bowls with noodles, corn, sauce and more from Scrooge Maki.
Scrooge Maki at Zwei Brewing
Holding up an ice cream cone with purple ice cream from Old Churn Ice Cream in Fort Collins.
Old Churn Ice Cream

The Exchange

The Exchange is a small outdoor area with multiple food vendors. In the center of the courtyard, you can enjoy a treat from Old Churn Ice Cream (it has the same owners at Little Man Ice Cream in Denver). This is perfect for a group that can’t agree on one place!

Zwei Brewing

Zwei Brewing is another brewery that often has food trucks and has a lot of outdoor seating. They serve German beer and you’ll likely be able to catch the game on TV. During my visit, the Scrooge Maki food truck was there and I enjoyed an amazing veggie poke bowl.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re exploring Fort Collins for a weekend trip from Denver or spending more time there, it’s a town worthy of your Colorado bucket list! Outdoor adventure and craft beer make this a great and underrated part of Colorado to explore.

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