Horsetooth Open Space was established as a regional park in 1982 as a way to preserve the mountain and its natural and cultural history from residential development. From 1998 to 2003, the Hughey, Culver, and Soderberg Homestead Open Spaces were added to the Horsetooth Mountain property. The park is known for Horsetooth Rock, which can be seen from the front range. If you visit in the spring, stop by Horsetooth Falls, a spectacular waterfalls display.
A legend among the Arapaho people that once populated what is now Northeast Colorado is of a great warrior killing a rampaging giant in battle. The warrior brought peace to the valley for his people and the giant’s body fell to the earth forming Horsetooth Mountain, the iconic rock outcropping that gives Horsetooth Mountain Open Space its name.
What isn’t legend is that archeological evidence shows the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space was inhabited by indigenous people as long as 12,000 years ago. Today’s visitors to the 2,711-acre open space in Larimer County, just four miles west of Fort Collins
, will discover the same incredible views of the Colorado Front Range that the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute, and Shoshone once witnessed long ago.
A marvel of 29 miles of hiking trails packed into an area of just four square miles awaits the serious and casual hiker. The open space ranges from just over a mile high to 7,255 at its highest point, creating a challenging climb for even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast. You can connect via the trails to Lory State Park and Blue Sky Trail.
The trailhead is open 24 hours a day and offers a wide variety of camping experiences. You can purchase a permit for a non-electric campsite or one with electricity. Full hookups are also offered, along with camper cabins, a boat-in-campsite available from May to September, and the unique experience of camping in a tipi.
Far from just hiking it offers a unique fishing experience on Horsetooth Reservoir. Anglers working from a boat or on the nearly 20 miles of shoreline can catch crappie, bluegill, perch, smallmouth bass, walleye, white bass, splake, and trout.
The landscape of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space has been the backdrop for an immense scope of human history, reaching back more than 12,000 years. For thousands of years, American Indian tribes traveled the land, hunting, gathering, camping, and living in the red rock canyons that wind through the property. Euro-American fur trappers and traders arrived in the early 1800s, and the discovery of gold and silver in the Horsetooth Valley in 1858 led eager prospectors to try their hand at mining. Soon after, settlers began homesteading on the mountain and by the 1880s the population grew as the industries around the mountain – logging, quarrying, ranching, farming, and digging Horsetooth Reservoir– all proved to be profitable.
As a bonus, each trail welcomes dogs and many allow cycling and horseback riding. Your reward for hiking is beautiful scenery that could include the namesake Horsetooth Rock as well as Horsetooth Falls, depending on which trail you pick. After your hike, refuel with your packed lunch at one of the picnic areas.
Close to Fort Collins
and a dozen miles northwest of Loveland, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is the perfect escape from the bustling life of the Front Range. Visit year-round to get a unique taste of life in the Colorado wilderness with all the amenities of home. Entrance fees are required with pricing established for single vehicles, boats, and discounts for disabled visitors, seniors, and veterans.
Horsetooth Mountain is open 12 months a year, providing seasonal adventures as summer turns to winter and then back again in the foothills of the Rockies.