Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fort Collins Foothills Trail (MTB)

The Fort Collins Foothills Trail is a 14 mi long trip with beautiful views, challenging singletrack with rocky uphill and downhill sections. Navigating this trail system can be confusing so I recommend taking a look here and reviewing the route with Google Earth or Google Maps. Here is a screen shot of my GPS route loaded in Google Earth.  

Trail Stats

Round Trip Distance = 14.1 mi
Total Elevation Gain = 1836 ft
Ride Time = 2.5 hr
Trail Type = Several technical sections (rocky)

Trail Walkthrough

Start from the Maxwell natural area parking lot (coordinates: 40.555931,-105.143823) and head south on the trail. When the trail splits at Dixon reservoir keep right. The trail will take you along the side of the ridge, almost to Harmony road and loop back around the other side of the lake. Part of this trail was closed due to muddy conditions when I went, so I had to cross over to the other side of the loop.

 View from the southern end of the trail facing Dixon Reservoir

Dixon Reservoir and Dixon Canyon Dam

After going around Dixon Reservoir ride north past the parking lot into the Maxwell Natural Area. Pass by the stadium, stay to the left and head up the ridge towards Horsetooth Reservoir.

Rocky section in the Maxwell Natural Area

 After you get over the first hill take a left and then a right. This will take you across Centennial Drive and through a parking lot. Head to the north side of the parking lot and stay to the left. This will take you to the shoreline trail part of the trip.

View from the north side of the parking lot facing north. 

Shoreline trail will eventually cross Centennial Drive again. If you continue on the trail past the road it will take you over the ridge down to the CSU foothills campus on a very technical downhill section (a few steep drops) and back up the hill on a very steep part. If you're like me and don't have a full suspension bike and full body armor you can ride north on Centennial drive (across the Soldier Canyon Dam) until you see a trail going to the right.This trail will take you back onto the Foothills trail and into Reservoir Ridge Natural Area. Head into Reservoir Ridge and go clockwise around the loop at the end. Once you go around the loop, head back towards shoreline trail.

View from the north end of Reservoir Ridge (facing south)

Instead of going back on shoreline trail, head south on Centennial drive for a short distance until you reach a trail that follows the road on the right hand side. This will eventually cross the road and enter Maxwell Natural Area. From here head back to the parking lot.