Here in Colorado, we don’t let the cold weather slow us down. In fact, winter is one of the best seasons for adventure here in NoCo! When the snow falls, Coloradans grab their freshly waxed skis and hit the trails. And luckily for us, we don’t have to travel far for prime cross-country skiing. There are plenty of incredible trails and parks for all levels within easy reach of Fort Collins, ranging from backcountry havens to wide-open parklands. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Located just north of Horseshoe River in Fort Collins, Lory State Park is one of the most popular destinations for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months, and there’s no mystery as to why. The park offers an abundance of trails, a wide range of difficulty levels, and plenty of beautiful views to boot!
You’ll find Nordic bliss just 40 minutes north of town in Laramie, Wyoming. Happy Jack Trail boasts perfectly maintained terrain for skiers of all levels, and more than 30 miles of trail total — all in an idyllic setting. Park at the trailhead for a $5 fee, strap on your skis and enjoy the ride!
Reserve a full day for the trek to Blue Lake, as it is a long journey! Your hard work, however, will be rewarded with gorgeous views and fresh alpine air. Trek 5.1 miles into the Rawah Wilderness, crossing Joe Wright Creek and Fall Creek before reaching your final destination. The trailhead is typically crowded on weekends (as you might expect in Colorado), so arrive early to avoid the masses.
This demanding 7.2-mile excursion to Zimmerman Lake is popular for skiers looking for a bit of a challenge. The route takes you through the scenic Neota Wilderness Area, providing excellent breakpoints to catch your breath and take in the views.
Nestled in the Upper Poudre Canyon, this popular trail tends to accumulate a large amount of late-season snow, and offers some good downhill for experienced cross-country skiers. You’ll traverse a 2.7-mile loop along the Never Summer Mountain Range on a fire road-type trail.
Spring Canyon Park opened in 2007 as Fort Collins’ newest community park, and sits near the foothills on the west side of town. Here you’ll find 100 acres of recreational facilities, including tennis courts, a playground and a dog park to entertain the whole family on summer days. But when a storm hits, the park is fair game for a little bit of cross-country skiing!
This gorgeous trail in the Cameron Pass Area is perfect for cross-country skiers looking for an easy route into the backcountry. The trail parallels an aqueduct, passing through some gorgeous scenery before reaching an uphill fork leading to American Lakes. If you want to challenge yourself, carry on, but beware of avalanches along the way.
City Park, nestled in the heart of Fort Collins, is a great option for easy cross-country skiing close to home. After a fresh snow, the fields are perfect for skiing, snow-fort building and other winter adventures, but the golf course offers the widest expanse of open area.
Conveniently located just west of Fort Collins, the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is a grand outdoor playground and winter wonderland after a fresh blanket of snow. Choose from several trails ranging in difficulty (or try them all) and enjoy the gorgeous views!
These two golf courses are both located in the southeast corner of Fort Collins, and are open to the public year-round. As long as there are no golfers out (and there probably won’t be if it’s snowing), cross-country skiers are welcome to take advantage of the wide-open terrain.
There are so many fun ways to get outside during winter in Fort Collins! Check out our complete guide to winter activities for more information on sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating and more.