Horsetooth Falls Trail

Larimer County, Colorado

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Horsetooth Falls Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is a mile long and begins at 5,899 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 637 feet.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Horsetooth Falls Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is a mile long and begins at 5,899 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 637 feet.
Activity Type: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Larimer County
Distance: 1.0
Elevation Gain: 637 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 5,899 feet
Top Elevation: 5,957 feet
Accessibility: Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Driving Directions: Directions to Horsetooth Falls Trail
Elevation Min/Max: 5709/5957 ft
Elevation Start/End: 5899/5899 ft
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Hiking Colorado's Front Range

Hiking Colorado's Front Range

A beautiful hike leads up to a cascading waterfall on a trail through open hills, narrow gulches, open meadows, and rock-lined ridges. The best time of the year to do the hike is late spring, when the wildflowers are blooming and the falls are quite impressive with water from the spring runoff.

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Best Easy Day Hikes Fort Collins

Best Easy Day Hikes Fort Collins

The hike to Horsetooth Falls is an attractive alternative to hiking all the way to the top of Horsetooth Rock, which is not the easiest of easy day hikes. Any time is a nice time to hike to the falls, but plan it after a rain or snowmelt to find the cascade running full.

Sometimes the beaten path is beaten for a reason. Case in point: the easy and rewarding hike to Horsetooth Falls. Begin
the trail on the north end of the parking lot, marked with a
trailhead kiosk and trailhead sign. Start ascending right away
in the open foothills landscape of grasses, yucca, and wild
plum. The trail is wide and smooth. Look southwest and you can see the notched Longs Peak and other peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park on the horizon. To the east is Horsetooth Reservoir and to the west is Horsetooth Rock.

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60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Denver and Boulder

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Denver and Boulder

Horsetooth Rock is an important Front Range landmark and is affectionately known as the Tooth to locals. This trail combines a short walk through wildflowers to Horsetooth Falls, with a longer hike through dense forest to Horsetooth Rock.

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Best Loop Hikes Colorado

Best Loop Hikes Colorado

Just 5 of the 28 miles nestled in Horsetooth Mountain Park, this lollipop trail offers wonderful views of much of Colorado’s dynamic landscape. It is a great place to bring the family; the entire park encompasses 2500 acres of land and is accessible for hikers, bikers, and horses.

Perched at over 7000 feet, Horsetooth Mountain is a familiar symbol for those dwelling in nearby Fort Collins. This hike climbs steadily through forested hogbacks right up to the rock, with long-distance views of the towns below and the high plains to the east.

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The Best Fort Collins Hikes

The Best Fort Collins Hikes

We asked ten Fort Collins residents to name the area’s best-known landmark, and nine of them replied that it has to be Horsetooth Rock. (The tenth person arrived only three days ago and, strictly speaking, should not have been included in our survey.) Horsetooth Rock is not only visible and impressive from miles away, it also provides a close-in and very enjoyable hike.Normally mild winters in the foothills mean that you can hike the area throughout much of the year. The Horsetooth Rock Trail is part of a system of trails located in Horsetooth Mountain Park, a nearly 3,000-acre area rolling across the foothills above Horsetooth Reservoir.

This is a fee area—six dollars per passenger vehicle. Restrooms and drinking water are available in the parking area. This is a popular area, especially on weekends, so it is probably best to arrive early. As with most foothill areas, there is some potential here for encounters with wildlife, including the creatures that we are trained to fear: bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes. It is prudent to exercise normal caution and to maintain supervision over young people. It is also mandatory to rejoice in having so much of nature, even the exciting parts, so readily available to us.

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Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park

Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking any part of this trail is a treat, and summiting the rock requires a rocky scramble that adds to the thrill. Just hiking to the base of the rock gives you nice views of the plains and reservoir and the impressive east side of Horsetooth Rock. The Audra Culver Trail option offers a view of Longs Peak’s snowy summit.

The park is 30 minutes from Fort Collins. From South Taft Hill Road turn west onto County Road 38E. It travels west and then switchbacks south up to Horsetooth Reservoir. Bear left and continue south and then west around the reservoir. The road climbs over a ridge, drops into the South Inlet Bay area, and then turns west and uphill again, where you see the parking lot on the right (north) side of the road.

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Best Easy Day Hikes Fort Collins

Best Easy Day Hikes Fort Collins

Hiking in Fort Collins and not paying a trip to Horsetooth Rock is like being in Paris and not bothering with the Eiffel Tower. It’s the very icon of the city, so strap on your boots, walk to the top of Horsetooth Mountain, and make a final scramble atop the granite rock that resembles, well, a horse’s tooth.

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty, and Fort Collins has Horsetooth Rock. That’s more than just T- shirt wisdom: Horsetooth Rock is the most iconic landscape feature of Fort Collins, and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is wildly popular among the populace. So popular, in fact, that you should plan to hit the trails on a weekday
or arrive quite early on a weekend. Beginning at around 5,800 feet in elevation, the trail is in a wide-open landscape of grasses and shrubs, including wild plum that blooms profusely in the spring.

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Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park

Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park

This is an easy trek for families with small children. The first 0.25 mile is steep, but the trail mellows and offers a nice stroll to a pretty little waterfall (that sometimes dries up during the summer or fall if there is a drought). The foothills ecosystem and views are worth the trek even if the falls are a trickle.

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Recent Trail Reviews

9/6/2010
0

Very well maintained trail system with good signage to mark various trails that take off from this loop. Just a trickle of water at the falls this time of year but still worth the walk.


7/7/2007
0

We hiked around Windsor, and loved it. Nice scenery. Close location. Easy trail for families. Be sure to bring sunscreen and bug spray!


5/13/2007
0

We did the big loop (Wathans portion of the trail) and then game back down to Horsetooth Falls on the way back. It was about 8-10 miles of easy to moderate hiking. Trails were well maintained and not crowded at all on Mother's Day. There are several trails all around that area so the variety is also good. I would recommend this trail to everyone.


7/8/2005
0

One of the things I love about Colorado is their commitment to "open space" and Horsetooth is part of that. We hiked this as part of a series of connecting trails. There is shade along the way so it is tolerable on a hot day. The waterfall is a nice respite. On the day my husband and I hiked there, a mother and daughter were enjoying the view. One can contine via connecting trails all the way to Horsetooth Mountain. It can be an all day hike if you wish it to be. There are lovely views of Fort Collins and mountains such as Meeker's Peek at sunset. It is rocky in places. I do envy the folks with the houses on the hill across the road. How awesome to have their view and decent hiking at your doorstep.



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