Coyote Ridge Natural Area (Larimer County, Colorado) is perfectly situated between Ft. Collins and Loveland and right where the Great Plains meet the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The only catch: no dogs allowed.
Because Whiskey Dog and I both prefer to hike together, it’s taken me a little while to explore the Coyote Ridge Natural Area and hike the Coyote Ridge Trail without her. And I’m so glad I did!
The 3-mile out-and-back trail is quite lovely. With only 600 feet elevation, it’s an easy hike, yet you’re rewarded with stunning views of the ridge extending down to Devil’s Backbone in the south and reaching up to Horsetooth Reservoir in the north. On the east side you can look down on Ft. Collins and the Great Plains beyond, on the west side you can marvel at the snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Fascinating to see in-between is the flat surface between the Coyote Ridge and the ridge of Rimrock Open Space – making it obvious why the area between the ridges was chosen for a large reservoir just north of this valley. Also, you get to see Horsetooth Mountain from a different angle than the common straight-on.
Not taking the dog had the benefit of watching and filming prairie dogs up close. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any coyotes (I would have needed to show up closer to sunrise) or mule deer (they were just being lame by remaining hidden).
According to the City of Ft. Collins website, people also see rattlesnakes, bears and mountain lions. I was happy to do without those sights.
A real joy on this outing was to see the first blooming spring wildflowers.
The Coyote Ridge Trail connects to the Rimrock Open Space. That loop adds another 4 miles AND you actually have to hike down the valley and back up the other side. Maybe even cooler, the trails also connect to the Blue Sky Trail, which can take you from Devil’s Backbone all the way up to Horsetooth Reservoir. Dogs are allowed on that trail… but it’s a long one. Maybe one day…