There are many natural places and trails to explore in and around Fort Collins!  Rocky Mountain National Park is about an hour away, Lory State Park is just a few miles out of town, Larimer County Natural Resources has many great spots (including camping) and there are 43 City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program sites! 

Here are some ideas of places to try:

In Fort Collins

  • Ride your bike (or borrow one from the free Fort Collins bike library or walk on the paved Poudre River Trail.  It winds its way along the forested Cache la Poudre River through town and through 17 natural areas.  The trail is virtually flat and the scenery is varied from open meadows to deep forest.  You can park at several trailheads (west to east some are at Lions Park, Taft Hill Road, Lee Martinez ParkHeritage Park, CSU Environmental Learning Center).  Its a busy place so watch for cyclists, strollers and dogs and stay to the right.  I particularly like parking at Lee Martinez Park and walking west to Shields Street- you can access McMurry and Salyer Natural Areas on the north side of the river- you will not believe that you are blocks from downtown since its so peaceful and pretty.
  •  Riverbend Ponds Natural Area is a great place to fish, hike or watch birds.  There are 3 entrances, one right off Prospect Ave, one of the main ways into Fort Collins from I-25.  There are about 3 miles of trail that encircle the 7 or 8 ponds and the western most trail goes along the Cache La Poudre River.

  • Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space is on the south side of Fort Collins and its a truly outstanding bird watching location.  In the winter (December, January, February) you usually see bald eagles there and in other seasons there are a variety of waterfowl.  There is a paved 1/4 mile loop and the Sandpiper trail is a half mile and the Cattail Flats trail is a mile long trail extending off of the main loop- both lead to bird viewing blinds.  Interpretive signs (some with tactile elements) share the story of this Audubon designated Important Bird Area. Don't miss the Northern Colorado Birding Fair here the last Saturday in September.

  • If you are willing to drive a bit, Bobcat Ridge Natural Area is about 30 minutes from Fort Collins in the foothills to the west and south of town (near Masonville).  Try the Valley Loop Trail for a moderate 4 mile loop and stop by the historic cabin to look around (there is a picnic table and restroom here too).  If you want a longer challenge, you can put together a loop hike of over 10 miles.  Cyclists should know that the Ginny Trail is tough and there are "technical trail features" for the way down such as ramps and jumps. The top of the Ginny Trail, Mahoney Park, has some great rock formations.  You'll love the red rock cliffs, ponderosa pine forests and grassy valleys of this special place!
This is just a start on a list, there are so many other wonderful places to discover!  Have fun visiting!