In 2008, we hiked a lot of the trails along Colorado’s northern front range. Even though we do not own a dog, we observed each trail that we explored to determine which were dog friendly. The following were my top five hiking trails for dogs in Fort Collins. All of them offered free pet waste bags. Please read Leave No Trace – 3 Myths, Effects, and Tips for Outdoor Recreation to learn about the importance picking up dog feces. Click the following links to view maps, pictures, videos, and information about each of the trails.
1. Reservoir Ridge Natural Area – It had a 3.0 mile loop with a total elevation climb of 400 feet. It was my number one trail for dogs because of its close proximity to downtown and, thus, it was ideal for frequent visits. It had free parking and was located 15 minutes northwest of Fort Collins.
2. Eagle’s Nest Open Space – It was a 827 acre park with 5 miles of hiking trails. It was the place to go for an easy, quiet adventure since elevation gains and human interaction were minimal. Parking was free and located just outside Livermore, CO; which was 30 minutes northwest of Fort Collins via highway 287.
3. Arthur’s Rock Trail – It was a moderately difficult 1.7 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet. In addition to being one of the best hikes in Fort Collins, it was ideal for dogs because it was not extreme in any way (i.e., length, elevation, terrain). The trailhead was located in Lory State Park which was 20-25 minutes west of downtown Fort Collins and which required a parking permit or day parking pass.
4. Gateway Natural Area – It had three dog friendly trails of varying lengths and difficulty. Like Eagle’s Nest Open Space, I had a very quiet experience with limited human contact. In addition, there was trout fishing in the North Fork Cache la Poudre River. It was located 15 miles northwest of Fort Collins in the Poudre Canyon and required a parking permit or day pass.
5. Cathy Fromme Prairie – It was a 2.5 mile paved concreted path that was mostly flat. It was more of a walk than a hike but its easy access and wide trails made it an excellent place to walk a dog and experience nature. Both free parking lots were located in the southwest corner of Fort Collins; with one on South Taft Hill Road and the other on South Shields Street.
Finally, if you visit Boulder be sure to read about their Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program. Related posts include:
- Best Fort Collins Hikes for Kids
- Mountain Biking Trails in Colorado (most of which are near Fort Collins)
- Larimer County Open Spaces
7 thoughts on “Best Hikes for Dogs in Fort Collins, Colorado”
Don't take your dogs for a hike in Lory State Park ! Last week end we were jumped ( no really ) by the Colorado State Park Police, Claiming that they had been observing us with binoculars, while on our hike, and that one of the dogs with us had been off leash ! NOT TRUE I replied, and really it wasn't true, both our dogs were on leash the entire hike. I had hiked in Lory State Park last year, with out our dogs, but felt we were being watched the entire time as another park police person followed us the entire hike just out of our sight. I let that go thinking it wa just a coincidence….Turns out maybe not. Apparently your are watched any time your in the park, by people paid with our tax dollars ( the park was also purchased with our tax dollars ) to catch any violation, and perhaps in our case entrap the park users with false accusations probably to meet an unspoken quota to boost park revenue ! I for one won't be using Lory State Park again ! ( I know, My loss ! ) Very Unprofessional people….Watch Out !
Thanks for the comment. I have been to Lory State Park several times to hike and mountain bike and have only witnessed happy dog owners. I am sorry to hear that you had a less than pleasant experience. Hopefully, Lory State Park will work it out so that future patrons don't have the same negative experience you did.
We did Reservoir Ridge Natural area last weekend and it was a wonderful hike for the dogs. The distance of around 3 miles was perfect and all the dogs were tired at the end. The humans enjoyed the beautiful fall scenery as well. We like to bring some of our Sit Means Sit Dog Training Clients on these types of hikes to practice good manners around other dogs and people. Great Hike!
Cindy, thanks for the comment. I'm glad the hike was great for your dogs.
I also have had only positive experiences hiking with my little dog at Lory. Though I do wish the day pass was not quite so pricey ($7)….
Thank you so much for this guide. I am looking forward to trying some of these, but you left out one of my favorite places right in Fort Collins to hike/walk with my dog – Riverbend Natural Area – http://www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/riverbendIs that because a stroll in a park is not a hike?
Kitty, thank you for your comment and recommendation of Riverbend Natural Area. It looks like a great place to take a dog on a walk/hike. The only reason it is not on my list is because I have not been there yet ;).