There are numerous fun hiking trails in Colorado’s northern Front Range, many of which are appropriate for kids. Specifically, Fort Collins’ family friendly hiking trails bestow an unbeatable opportunity to get your family out of the house and away from TV, the Internet, and video games. In 2008, we hiked a lot of the trails in the Fort Collins, Colorado area. The following are my top five because I found them to be fun and challenging for parents with a kid in a child carrier and/or with kids old enough to walk. Click the links to view maps, pictures, videos, and more information about the trails.
1. Ramsay-Shockey Open Space – The Shoshone trail is a 2.0 mile loop with a mild elevation gain of 300 feet and includes seven interpretive stations that are fun for the whole family. Further, the parking lot has interpretive trail guides you can take with you on your hike. The trailhead is located 30 minutes southwest of Loveland, Colorado and requires a parking permit/day pass that must be purchased at the Bison Visitor Center prior to arrival.
2. Coyote Ridge Natural Area – A 0.25 mile interpretive loop is reachable after hiking the first mile of the trail. The interpretive loop is an interactive learning experience for hikers of all ages. In particular, kids can learn about wildlife and plants that reside on the prairie while at the same time observe prairie dogs and desert cottontail rabbits darting around near the trail. The trailhead has free parking and is located 15 minutes northwest of Loveland, Colorado and 15 minutes southwest of Fort Collins, Colorado on Taft Hill Road/Wilson Avenue. It is should be noted that dogs are not allowed in the natural area.
3. Devil’s Backbone Open Space – Wild Loop Trail is 2.5 mile loop inside Devil’s Backbone Open Space that includes a keyhole with a western view of Longs Peak. The trail is mostly flat with a few moderate climbs. Many of Larimer County’s free guided hikes and nature presentations take place here. The trailhead is located 10 minutes outside of Loveland, Colorado and includes free parking. 4. Fossil Creek Open Space – Fossil Creek Open Space has three trails along the southern border of Fossil Creek Reservoir. All three trails are short and flat. This open space is an important bird sanctuary for several birds. It includes several interpretive booths and, thus, is a quintessential setting for kids to learn about birds. Free guided bald eagle watches take place in November, December, and January. The trailhead is located 25 minutes southeast of Fort Collins, Colorado and includes free parking.5. Bobcat Ridge Natural Area – The Valley Loop Trail is 4.0 miles long with a minor change in elevation of ~300 feet. The trail has several interpretives signs and the remnants of a real tipi ring. The trailhead is located 30 minutes southwest of Fort Collins, Colorado and includes free parking.
Most of these trails have little shade so it is important to bring hiking hats, sun tan lotion, and lots of water. To help make these hikes educational and fun for your kids, you can download and print our free kids activities PDFs: Poison Ivy Field Guide and Hiking Checklist for Kids.