You almost have to stumble upon it, given its out-of-the-way nature. Most locals and visitors opt for the majestic mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, Lilly Lake, Brainard Lake, or our countless other hiking destinations with massive mountain views. That is why Red Mountain Open Space, located twenty-five miles north of Fort Collins, is a bit of a hidden gem. While the mountain peaks taper to a less dramatic elevation out this way, the views are anything but tame.
Once you turn onto the ten-mile dirt road that leads to the trailhead, anticipation rises. Antelope, Magpies, and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are likely to welcome you to the area. You might be surprised to catch a glimpse of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker nestled into the rolling red rock bluffs as you wind your way toward the trailhead.
The Red Mountain Open Space Trailhead has bathrooms as well as a couple of picnic shelters, so make a day of your adventure and pack a picnic lunch or dinner! Be sure to take time to stop at the trail map and take in the history of the area. Some of the first humans in North America resided in this area over 12,000 years ago! Because of its rich geological and historical background, collection of any artifacts is strictly prohibited. So be sure to bring a camera and capture some of the magnificence of the area through photos!
With over 15,000 acres of open space, this natural area is home to stunning wildlife and plants, and has over 15 miles of multi-use trails to guide hikers, bikers, and horse back riders through this vast expanse of beauty.
Take in the bright red rock cliffs and meander along the tranquil creek as you hike your way along the two-mile loop on Bent Rock trail, and be sure to stop and read the plaques along the way that explore the intriguing geography of the area. If you have young hikers along, this trail provides a great educational adventure. Make a stop at the earthen dam that was constructed in the 1950s as part of a series of dams and drainage systems to alleviate flooding in the town of Wellington.
If you’re up for a little more challenge or have your mountain bike in tow, head down the Cheyenne Rim Trail for a more difficult route. This trail connects to a larger trail system over at the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, which opens up a whole day’s worth of hiking or biking!
Whether you’re in search of an adventurous history lesson, or a day out biking along red rock cliffs and antelope, the Red Mountain Open Space offers a stunning exploration of Colorado wildlife, geology, history, and adventure!
Respect The Area:
- Dogs are not allowed
- Area is closed from December 1 – March 1st for weather changes and wildlife requirements
- Stick to the trails! This area is highly protected
- No fires of any kind are permitted
- No hunting without a special permit