Northern Colorado is famous for offering many options for outdoor enthusiasts. There are many miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and jogging trails that can be explored.
If you want to avoid the heavily trafficked areas, here are several lesser-known tracks in the region that offer an enticing challenge.
Located in the Red Mountain Open Space, Cheyenne Rim Trail is one of the quieter trails in North Colorado. It is an 11-mile loop trail of moderate difficulty, with a total elevation gain of approximately 1,305 feet. It is perfect for long hikes, mountain biking, and trail running.
If you are up for a longer adventure, a couple of possibilities open up. You can take this trail to the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, another lesser known gym. You can also take this route on foot or bike and pass the border to Wyoming’s Big Hole Open Space. Aim to visit between March and November.
Located in the Roosevelt National Forest, take the Meadows Trail to reach Zimmerman Lake. The forest here is lush ground for bird watching, and in the spring, the landscape is awash in colors. In the winter, Meadows Trail to Zimmerman Lake is a prime location for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Dogs are welcome on the trail, so long as they are on a leash.
Make fishing the main attraction of your excursion when you explore the 3-mile Riverbend Ponds Loop. It passes through several ponds, all stocked with a variety of fish, including crappie, bass, and catfish. The natural area is also a prime birding spot, with an array of shorebirds and waterfowl visiting the area.
Due to its proximity to Fort Collins’ city center, Riverbend Ponds Loop makes for a quick yet scenic getaway. It is especially magical around late in the afternoon.
The Sheep Mountain Trail offers challenge, low foot traffic, plenty of and greenery. A well-maintained 9-mile out and back trail that partially runs along a ridgeline, it is a great place to try bird watching and find wildflowers. Although pretty, the views are much obscured by the trees and there are sections of a steep gradient, as the trail has a total elevation gain of over 2,890 feet. It is rated difficult; ample preparation is a must.
The Shoreline Trail to Nomad Trail loop is a family-friendly 5-mile loop trail. The low gradient makes it an easy challenge, whether you are biking, running, hiking, or horseback riding. There is nary a tree here, meaning little to no shade, but in the springtime, the meadows are overrun with blooming wildflowers. Because of the low elevation gain, mountain bikers frequent the area. Dogs are allowed, just keep them leashed.