Escape to one of northern Colorado’s natural trails

Amid the hustle and bustle of the ever-growing cities and towns of northern Colorado exist natural, unpaved and nearly untouched trail systems where visitors can leave it all behind and escape into the great outdoors. Below, find something for everyone on our list of favorite trails.

Fort Collins area trails

Coyote Ridge Natural Area: This 2.3-mile trail is located between Loveland and Fort Collins on Taft Hill Rd./Wilson St. The trail contains a mixture of grasslands and forest areas and allows visitors the option of connecting to Rimrock Open Space and extending the trail to 7 miles. The trail is open to horseback riders, mountain bikers and hikers. www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/coyote

Foothills Trail: This 9.6-mile trail connects Pineridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge natural areas and offers incredible views of the foothills. The trail runs parallel to Horsetooth Reservoir and is available to horseback riders, hikers and experienced cyclists. Parking can be found on the west end of Michaud Lane and at approximately 1425 Overland Trail Rd. www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/reservoirridge

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space: More than 2700 acres of open space and dozens of trails make Horsetooth Mountain a popular place for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Arguably the most popular trail in the area, Horsetooth Rock is a 2.1-mile one way moderately difficult hike open to hikers only. Views from the top of this well known landmark include Horsetooth Reservoir and the Front Range. www.larimer.org/parks/htmp.cfm

Loveland area trails

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area: Of the five trails located at this Loveland/Masonville natural area, Valley Loop’s 4-mile round trip distance, difficulty level and mixed terrain make it an excellent choice for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Grassy prairie, shaded forest and the remains of a recent fire, along with frequent wildlife sightings make this trail one not to be missed. The Bobcat Ridge parking lot is located at 10184 West County Road 32C, Loveland. www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/bobcat

Carter Lake: The 3.3-mile one way Sundance Trail at Carter Lake follows the west side of the lake from the South Shore campground to just west of the marina. The relatively flat trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders and parking is available at either end, off CR31 or NCR31, Loveland. www.co.larimer.co.us/parks/carter.cfm

Devil’s Backbone Open Space: This 12-mile trail system is easily accessed from Colorado Highway 34 west of Loveland and Hidden Valley Drive. The 2-mile Wild Loop Trail is suitable for all ability levels and takes visitors up to the keyhole for incredible views of the valley below. The trail separates in places to allow usage by hikers, bikers and riders. www.larimer.org/parks/bbone.cfm

Pinewood Reservoir: The 2-mile Shoshone Trail winds up into the forest before dropping down next to the reservoir for the last .5 mile. The trail is often less crowded than other, better-known trails and is more often frequented by fishermen. Access the trail via the Ramsay Shockey trailhead, approximately 4.5 miles west of Carter Lake on CR18E. www.co.larimer.co.us/parks/pinewood.cfm

Windsor area trail

Belmont Ridge Open Space: This 2.5-mile trail is accessible through Coyote Gulch Park near the intersection of N. Fairgrounds Ave. and Crossroads Blvd. The natural surface trail is suitable for hikers and mountain bikers, and provides visitors with an opportunity to get outdoors and stretch their legs without driving far from town. www.windsorgov.com/836/Trails-Open-Spaces