Many are moving to Loveland — and Northern Colorado in general — largely due to the city’s access to outdoor recreation, from skiing in the winter to biking in the summer. And no matter what time of year it is, locals sure like to go hiking on the weekends.
Here in Loveland, we are centrally located near a number of amazing hiking trails, from short and sweet strolls along a reservoir to more challenging climbs reaching the summit of a mountain. And they’re all just a few minutes away!
These hiking trails near Loveland are the perfect way to experience our beautiful region, get some exercise, and soak up the sunshine we’re known for in Colorado. Just be sure to wear sunscreen and pack plenty of water, as many of these hikes do not offer shade! And as usual, be sure to wear a face covering when you’re not able to maintain a 6-foot distance from other hikers.
Distance: 1.6 Miles
This moderate 1.6-mile trail is part of Loveland’s Mariana Butte trail system, traveling from the golf course parking lot to Rossum Drive. Once you reach this road, you can head north to the entrance of the Oxbow Natural Area to add some extra mileage to your trek. Along the way, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Front Range and a look at the back side of the Mariana Butte hogback rock formation. The trail also follows the Big Thompson River towards the tail end. Be sure to wear proper footwear with good traction, as the trail can get muddy after a good rainfall or snowstorm.
Distance: 2.4 Miles
There’s a new kid on the block! Complete with a brand new, clean restroom and 36-car parking lot, Prairie Ridge Natural Area is the city’s newest natural area, situated just northwest of 57th Street and Wilson Avenue in Northwest Loveland. The area includes a 2.4-mile multi-use trail system, including a 0.8-mile connection to the Coyote Ridge Natural Area. This is the perfect place to go hiking, mountain biking, trail running or horseback riding, and admire wildlife all the while. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in the Prairie Ridge Natural Area.
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Photo Courtesy of the City of Loveland
The 163-acre River’s Edge Natural Area is just southwest of downtown Loveland, offering one of the closest hikes in town. The area contains 3.8 miles of natural-surface trails for walking, bicycling, leashed dog-walking and wildlife viewing. One of the most popular is the 2.7-mile River’s Edge Natural Loop, which travels along three different scenic ponds. All ponds have numerous fishing access points and there is a wetland boardwalk for a more close-up experience at Bass Pond.
Distance: 3.2 Miles
The Bobcat Ridge Natural Area boasts more than 17 miles of trails used for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. One of the best out of the five distinct trails is the DT Trail, a moderate trail just over 3 miles connecting the Valley Loop Trail with Ginny Trail. In fact, you could combine the three for a more extensive and challenging 11-mile hike and about 2,000 feet of climbing. Mountain bikes and dogs are not allowed on DT Trail and it is further away from the parking lot, which provides a quieter hike with less foot (and tire!) traffic.
NOTE: Bobcat Ridge Natural Area is currently closed due to the Cameron Peak Fire but is expected to reopen in the summer of 2021. Click here for updates.
Distance: 4.1 Miles
Photo Courtesy of City of Fort Collins
The Coyote Ridge Trail is a mellow, pleasant hike in the Coyote Ridge Natural Area that connects to Devil’s Backbone Open Space, Prairie Ridge Open Space and the Blue Sky Trail. About a mile into the hike, there’s an educational natural trail called the Hidden Clues Trail. Along the way, you may see wildlife such as mule deer and coyotes, and maybe even mountain lions, bears and rattlesnakes. There is no shade on the trail so be sure to apply sunscreen and bring plenty of water.
Distance: 4.1 Miles
This easy, 4.1-mile trail is situated in Pineridge Natural Area, a popular hiking, fishing and biking area just southwest of Fort Collins. The trail passes through grasslands and encircles Dixon Reservoir, providing a beautiful backdrop along the way. It’s an easy hike for kids and dogs, with relatively flat terrain.
Distance: 4.3 Miles
Photo Courtesy of Richard Ernst via Larimer County
Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail provides an enjoyable hike with views of the foothills and surrounding mountain scenery. One of the main goals for hikers of this trail is to reach the Keyhole, through which you get a jaw-dropping view of surrounding mountains, including Longs Peak. Because of its popularity and proximity to Loveland, this is a trail with heavy traffic, including folks of all skill levels. Embark on this out-and-back trail with the family on a warm summer day — but be sure to lather on the sunscreen as this trail offers no shade!
Distance: 4.5 Miles
As part of the Round Mountain National Recreation Trail, the Summit Adventure Trail is a 4.5-mile (one way) moderate hike to the summit of Sheep Mountain. You should set aside an entire day for this relatively challenging hike, which can take about 6-8 hours to complete at a normal pace. The hike begins where there is a split in the main trail just beyond the parking lot. While this trail is a bit lengthier and steeper than the rest on this list, the views at the top are certainly worth the climb!
Distance: 7 Miles
Boyd Lake is one of our favorite lakes in Northern Colorado for many reasons, including its hiking opportunities. Along the west side of the lake, the 7-mile paved Boyd Lake Trail is an excellent place to go biking, running or walking, all while taking in views of this scenic 1,700-acre lake. Looking for activities while you’re there? Here’s Everything You Can Do at Boyd Lake State Park.
Distance: 23 Miles
Photo Courtesy of the City of Loveland
One of the best ways to experience the outdoors in Loveland is by conquering a portion of the extensive Loveland Recreation Trail. This 23-mile paved trail encircles the city of Loveland, offering views of its natural treasures along the way. Much of the trail follows the Big Thompson River, passing through a number of parks to enjoy along the way, including Centennial Park, Fairgrounds Park, Seven Lakes Park, and Mehaffey Park, offering places to take a break to use the restroom, eat a snack or let the kids play on the playground. Click here for a map of the Loveland Recreation Trail!
What’s your favorite hiking destination in Loveland? Tell us all about it in the comments below!