December 12  |  Our Communities


The 12 Best Snowshoe Trails in Northern Colorado

Whether you’re just visiting or you’re lucky enough to call NoCo home, snowshoeing is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the area while it’s blanketed in snow. Though many of our summertime hiking favorites are suitable for snowshoeing after a recent snowfall, we picked out a few of the most beautiful and accessible options to make sure you have a memorable trip!

Some of the trails that made the list can be found inside Rocky Mountain National Park, just a short drive away, where you can also learn the basics from a park ranger! However, reservations are required and depend on park conditions. Options include: Beginning Snowshoe walks each Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, January through March; and Beginning and Intermediate Snowshoe walks on the west side of the park! For more information, check out the website.

If you need to rent equipment before you head out, we recommend stopping at one of these locations in Estes Park or Fort Collins’ own Jax Mercantile!

Top places to snowshoe in Northern Colorado include:

  • Lory State Park
  • Big South Trail
  • Blue Lake
  • Mineral Spring Gulch
  • Montgomery Pass
  • Zimmerman Lake
  • Upper Beaver Meadows
  • Deer Mountain
  • Bear Lake Loop
  • Odessa Lake
  • Sprague Lake
  • Hidden Valley

Below, you’ll find more information on the trails, directions, tips and more!

Lory State Park

Closest community: Fort Collins | Get directions

Best Snowshoeing in Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Lory State Park is just north of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. Throughout the year, it’s a hot spot for hiking and mountain biking, but in the winter it becomes a paradise for snowshoers. The intricate trail system offers both long and short trips depending on your skill level and time constraints. It’s also a great place for cross-country skiing! You can learn more about the park on the website or follow the team on Facebook.

 

Big South Trail

Closest community: Fort Collins | Get directions

This out-and-back trail is 6 miles long and winds through the upper Poudre Canyon. Along the way, you’ll pass frozen waterfalls and cross over May Creek, you’ll gain about 560 feet in elevation, and you’ll get an amazing winter workout. After the first half mile, you’ll likely leave behind the crowds to find a peaceful, snow-covered canyon landscape. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, this trail has an option to go further for a total of 13 miles.

 

Blue Lake

Closest community: Fort Collins | Get directions

Best Snowshoeing in Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

The first two miles of Blue Lake Trail follows an old wagon trail, crossing footbridges over Joe Wright Creek and Fall Creek before entering the Rawah Wilderness. Blue Lake, about five miles from the trailhead, is a gorgeous sight during the winter months. The lake marks the end of the trek, but we suggest taking a break to soak in the view before you turn around! This out-and-back trail is 9.5 miles round trip, and is one of the most popular snowshoe trails in the area — so be ready to meet other trekkers!

 

Mineral Spring Gulch

Closest community: Red Feather Lakes/Livermore | Get directions

Along the trail from Mineral Spring Gulch to Prospect Mountain Trail, you’ll travel a total of four miles. The woodland meadow has beautiful pine trees and views of the canyon and the distant Rawah and Medicine Bow Mountains from the top. This is a great intro hike for budding snowshoers and it’s located in the stunning Poudre Canyon!

 

Montgomery Pass

Closest community: Red Feather Lakes/Livermore | Get directions

Never Summer Nordic Yurts Fort Collins snowshoeing Northern Colorado

Photos courtesy of Never Summer Nordic Yurts

The end of this quick snowshoe trip rewards you with a cozy, mountain yurt. The yurt itself is a part of the Never Summer Nordic yurt system and can be reserved through their website here. Simply make your reservation, strap on your snowshoes and hike 2.8 miles over a fairly flat course. Don’t miss stargazing on the porch at night! For more details on winter parking, accessibility and cost, check out the Never Summer Nordic website.

 

Zimmerman Lake

Closest community: Red Feather Lakes/Livermore | Get directions

Ranging from easy to moderate depending on the snowpack, this Poudre Canyon trail was originally made in 1957 for logging purposes. It traverses one mile to the lake, then 1.5 around the water. Along the way, you’ll be traveling at about 10,000 feet and never above 10,500 so take your time and enjoy the scenery along this stunning winter route.  

 

Upper Beaver Meadows

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

Best Snowshoeing in Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Beaver Meadows offers two hiking routes: a road and a wilderness trail. Either one is a suitable choice for snowshoeing during the winter months. Along the way, you may see elk bedded down among trees near the trail or along the stream! Because the out-and-back route is just 3 miles and stays relatively flat, this is a great option for beginners.

 

Deer Mountain

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

The 3-mile route up Deer Mountain begins in a stand of mature ponderosa pine and winds upward past lodgepole, aspen and limber pine to the summit, which offers spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Though snowshoes may not be necessary for the bottom half of the trail, they’re usually necessary nearer the top and recommended for safety.

 

Bear Lake Loop

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

At the end of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, this scenic snowshoe hike is just over one half mile and ideal for beginners. At 9,475 feet, with little elevation gain as you circle the water, your journey will stay much lower than many other trips inside the park. So strap on your snowshoes and start practicing!

 

Odessa Lake

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

Best Snowshoeing in Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

For a more strenuous trip from Bear Lake, you can access the Bear Lake Trailhead to Odessa Lake. It’s an 8.9 loop in total, but the view of the winter lake is worth it for conditioned snowshoers. Along the way, you’ll see both Bear Lake and Odessa Lake once you reach the summit!

 

Sprague Lake

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

After a recent snowfall, this Rocky Mountain National Park lake becomes a winter wonderland and a perfect spot for snowshoeing. The flat, one-mile trail circles the water at the base of several towering peaks. Though you may see other snowshoers and families, there’s still a good chance for wildlife spotting as well!

 

Hidden Valley

Closest community: Estes Park | Get directions

Formerly Hidden Valley Ski Area, this is the only place in Rocky Mountain National Park where sledding is allowed and it’s always a popular family adventure spot! At about 2.5 miles, the strenuous snowshoe route up to Trail Ridge Road from the parking lot climbs steadily through the trees for an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet. Watch out for downhill skiers who may be on their way down!

 

Happy trails!  

For even more outdoor, winter activities check out our blog post, Things to Do in the Fort Collins Area This Winter. You’ll find skiing, sledding, ice skating and more!

In the comments below, let us know where your go-to snowshoeing spots are around Northern Colorado.


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