Hike Distance: 1.7 miles one way; 3.4 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,100 feet
Highest Point of Elevation: Approximately 6,800 feet
Seasons: Spring to Fall
Dogs: Allowed On Leash
Nearest Town: Fort Collins, Colorado
If you’re in search of a relatively short and moderate hike with spectacular views, Arthur’s Rock Trail at Lory State Park is a must. Just outside of Fort Collins and bordering Horsetooth Reservoir, Lory State Park offers a variety of trails for mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and even climbing.
After entering the park, drive south to the very end of the main gravel road. Here you’ll find a parking lot and the beginning of Arthur’s Rock Trail.
To begin, a clearly defined path takes you up and around grasses, boulders and forested mountainsides. At some points of the trail, you’ll get a hint of the views you’ll see once at the top of Arthur’s Rock. Don’t be afraid to stop, catch your breath, and admire the variety of wildflowers you’re likely to see along this trail during the summer months.
Around a half mile into the hike, you’ll come to a split. A sign will point you right to continue on Arthur’s Rock Trail while Howard Trail, to the left, offers a more challenging return from the top of Arthur’s Rock. Soon after this split, the trail will open up into a sweeping, grassy meadow that sways beautifully in the summer breeze.
Once through the meadow, you’ll continue your ascent through more forest. Winding switchbacks bring you gradually closer to your destination. About 1.1 miles into the hike, you’ll come to an overlook comprised of large boulders. Carefully scramble up and take a minute to check out the meadow from above and the hills bordering Horsetooth Reservoir to the east.
When you’re ready, continue up the trail. The closer you get to the top, the larger and more frequent the boulders alongside the path become. Finally, you’ll arrive at a steep rock gully for your last leg of the trip. Go slowly and test the stability of the rocks before using them as hand or foot holds.
Once you reach the top of the hike, take some time to enjoy it! Explore the different formations of Arthur’s Rock and search for the most comfortable spot to sit and take in the views of Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, and the surrounding Front Range.
Once you’ve had your fill, head back the way you came. If you have the time, check out Howard Trail or the remaining paths that are accessible from Arthur’s Rock Trail.
Disclaimer: Use extreme caution when hiking atop formations like Arthur’s Rock. Stay away from the cliff edges and be aware of the weather. If you notice dark clouds moving toward you, safely climb to lower ground below treeline. Bring adequate amounts of drinking water and sun protection for the duration of your hike.