Morning Hike in Horsetooth Mountain Park

Horsetooth Rock

Horsetooth Rock

Many residents of Fort Collins have made their way to the top of the infamous Horsetooth Rock in Horsetooth Mountain Park.  Sitting at 7,256 in elevation and visible from nearly everywhere in Fort Collins, Horsetooth Rock attracts hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers from all over Northern Colorado.

I have run and hiked to the top of Horsetooth Rock many times over the past few years.  What I realized on my hike this morning is that I have so much more exploring to do in Horsetooth Mountain Park.  Sure, I have made my way over to Horsetooth Falls, but there are still miles and miles of trails waiting for my shoes to step on them.

Today I decided to do a couple of things differently to make my hike a bit more interesting.  First, I climbed to the top of the south rock (the one on the left side if you are looking west toward the mountain).  Horsetooth Rock Trail leads you up to the north rock, but if you willing and able to scramble up the rock on the south side you may be pleasantly surprised with the unobstructed views as you look south.  Carter Lake, Lake Loveland, Boyd Lake – you name it.  If you have been to the top of Horsetooth Rock you know the views are spectacular and well worth the excursion up the rock.

Horsetooth to Longs

On Top of Horstooth Rock

Once I made my way back down the rock, I kept an eye out for the Audra Culver Trail.  I have passed the trail loop so many times on my way down but today I finally took the one-mile loop – and I’m glad I did.  The Audra Culver Trail has much less traffic than the Horsetooth Rock Trail, and because it’s on the west side of the park you can see the valley and Long’s Peak just about the entire time.  The trail intersects with the South Ridge Trail, so even though it added some distance to my descent, it was a nice way to mix it up and see something different in the park. All-in-all my hike this morning was less than two hours, and that includes the time I spent taking pictures.  What a great way to start my day!  And what a blessing it is to live in Fort Collins, CO! If you have any questions or suggestions about hiking up Horsetooth Rock or if you’d like to share information about some of your favorite hikes in Northern Colorado, send me an email or Facebook message!  It’s always nice to chat with other outdoor enthusiasts! Here are some more pictures:  

Sunrise on Horsetooth Rock Trail

Sunrise on Horsetooth Rock Trail

Mark

Mark on Horsetooth Rock

Richard Jensen on Horsetooth Rock

Richard Jensen on Horsetooth Rock

 

Horsetooth Rock via Audra Culver Trail

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Horsetooth Rock, Fort Collins, CO

On Sunday afternoon I decided to take a hike up to Horsetooth Rock.  It's a hike I have done many times, but this time I decided to change up the normal route to the north side of the rock and scale the south side instead. 

At the base of the rock I met a guy named Eric Webster, who I later realized is an experienced hiker and student at Colorado State University.  He invited me to follow him up the south side of the rock and I was amazed that his dog was also able to scale the steep walls up to the top.  Like so many Fort Collins residents, Eric was not a native and relocated to Fort Collins from Washington DC.  As I explained how I relocated to Colorado from southern California, Eric admitted that so many Colorado natives do not realize how lucky they are to have the mountains and outdoor recreation so accessible.  So true.

Horsetooth Rock has an elevation of just over 7200 feet and offers scenic views of Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins and the plains to the east, and Long's Peak and the mountains to the west.  Whether you current live in Fort Collins or plan to visit in the future, make Horsetooth Mountain Park one of your hiking destinations.

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