Fort Collins, the northernmost city on the Front Range, is a vibrant, active community of 152,000 that’s home to Colorado State University. Fort Collins began as a U.S. Army fort on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River in 1864. Its foothill location 60 miles north of Denver makes it a springboard to explore the northern Rockies, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Poudre Canyon, and several wilderness areas.
Fort Collins, a prohibition town until 1969, is now Colorado’s Craft Beer Capital. The town celebrates beer with 20 craft breweries and Anheuser-Busch, one of the world’s largest breweries. Remember that when you’re done bouldering at Horsetooth, hiking up Greyrock, rafting down the Cache La Poudre, camping up Poudre Canyon, or fishing Gold Medal Waters, then head into the Fort and grab a cold one to sip as you recount the day’s adventures.
Water recreation centers on Horsetooth Reservoir, a six-mile-long reservoir tucked in the foothills west of Fort Collins. The lake, with 25 miles of shoreline, offers boating, swimming, and fishing. The hogback east of the lake is one of Colorado’s best bouldering areas, with hundreds of problems on Dakota sandstone blocks. There’s also hiking on Foothills Trail, picnic areas, and two campgrounds.
Fort Collins, like other Front Range cities, is a hiker’s paradise. Trails lace the foothills, mountains, and even the prairie. The popular 2.5-mile Horsetooth Rock Trail to its namesake summit is the Fort’s iconic hike. South of town is Devil’s Nature Backbone Trail, which runs to a rock formation, and easy Coyote Ridge Trail. A couple Natural Areas with good trails are Bobcat Ridge and Soapstone Prairie, a remote area 25 miles north of town. Lory State Park by Horsetooth Reservoir offers 26 miles of good trails, including the excellent 1.7-mile Arthur’s Rock Trail. Trails lace Poudre Canyon west of town, giving lots of scenic trail adventures. Don’t miss the 7.3-mile roundtrip hike on Greyrock National Recreation Trail.
Plenty of singletrack trails keep mountain bikers fit and happy around the Fort. Recommended bike trails include Foothills Trail, Blue Sky Trail, Bobcat Ridge with 11 trail miles, Lory State Park with 15 miles of trails, and Hewlett Gulch Trail. For a fun ride in town, share the Poudre Trail, a paved pathway along the Cache la Poudre River, with skateboarders, in-line skaters, and walkers.
Fort Collins has 820 acres of city parks and open space, including six community parks, 44 neighborhood parks, and 29 miles of trails. These parks offer walking, picnicking, skateparks, basketball and volleyball courts, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, dog parks, trails, disc golf courses, and public golf courses. A couple of the best parks for families and fun are Spring Creek Park and Fossil Spring Park.