Plenty of adventure just minutes from downtown. Miles of biking and hiking trails. World-class rock routes. The whitewater of the Cache la Poudre River. Hip music and an unmatched craft beer scene. All of these converge to give Fort Collins its sweet vibe that appeals to hard-core mountain-folk and hipsters. It also make it the perfect summer getaway. Here’s our insight on how to best enjoy it all.
With 50 parks and 280-miles-plus of hiking, running and biking trails, there’s no shortage of routes to check out here. If you’re looking for the quintessential Fort Collins hike, head to Horsetooth Rock (7,256 feet), the distinctively shaped stony sentry that watches over town. Just 15 minutes from the city, this moderate, 2.5-mile climb to the long, thin summit of Horsetooth offers up views of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, the eastern plains and the reservoir. Or drive 30 minutes up Poudre Canyon to reach the trailhead for Greyrock Mountain (7,613 feet), a conical peak that towers prominently over the north rim of the canyon. You can link up the Greyrock Trail and Greyrock Meadows Trail for an enjoyable seven-mile loop that circumnavigates the pointy peak and tack on a short, steep spur hike to the summit, too.
If getting vertical is your thing, Greyrock’s granite slabs offer over 125 climbing routes—mostly trad, but there are also some bolted lines—for beginners and experts alike. Another popular climbing spot, Duncan’s Ridge sits on the east side of Horsetooth Reservoir. Seven sets of bolts for setting up top ropes and routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.10, make this is an excellent location for teaching newbies or honing leading and anchor-building skills. With more than 100 problems ranging in difficulty from V0 to V12 and split among different areas like Piano Boulders, Rotary Park and North Rotary Park, the reservoir’s east side sandstone also offers some of the best bouldering in the region.
The Cache la Poudre River, running through the heart of Fort Collins, is the only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River in the state. Easy access, clear water, fun rapids and stunning scenery, make a whitewater trip down the Poudre—on a raft, kayak, canoe or SUP—a must for every visitor. With rapids ranging from class I to class V, the Poudre will delight adrenaline junkies and families alike. If rapids aren’t your jam, enjoy 6.5-mile-long Horsetooth Reservoir via stand up paddle board. It’s the best way to explore the reservoir’s vast shoreline, countless bays and hidden coves. And if you are up for a multi-sport, land-water combo adventure, you can paddle that SUP along Horsetooth to reach trail running and hiking routes within Lory State Park, including the East Valley Trail and Shoreline Trail, which connect to the reservoir.
BIKE IT … and beer
A trip to Fort Collins without hopping on a bike or drinking a craft beer is sacrilege. So why not do both in one shot? The beer culture in Fort Collins runs strong. You’ll find 20 breweries located here, from nationally famous New Belgium to EO “Brew Madness” reader poll finalist Black Bottle Brewery, Since many breweries are located within walking and biking distance of historic downtown, it’s easy to link together a bike-and-brew itinerary.
Thanks to the Bike Library (fcbikelibrary.org/tours.php), you can take your own brewery tour by checking out a loaner bike and following the written directions for a self-guided tour. Or, you can go guided with Beer and Bike Tours, an awesome company that offers a range of brew-centric riding adventures including an easy, four-hour Brew Cruise, a moderate Day Tour, which includes a more robust road ride, and a more difficult three-day journey called Colorado Adventure (beerandbiketours.com). If you want to go beyond tasting a bunch of beers, many of the breweries in town, including three big ones—Odell’s, New Belgium and Fort Collins Brewery—offer daily tours so you can get an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at your favorite beers being made. Reserve online in advance to ensure a spot.
No matter how you choose to dive into the beer and food scene, don’t miss Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern (fortcollinsbrewery.com) a family-owned, handcrafted brewery that has distinguished itself by creating delicious brews and serving artisanal dishes that are often infused with craft beer and made using locally sourced ingredients. CooperSmith’s Pub and Brewing (coopermsithspub.com) also serves up stellar beer and delicious food made right on the premises. It features two restaurants: The Pub dishes up hearty pub fare in a casual, but charming environment while Poolside serves burgers, pizza and apps in a fun atmosphere with pool tables, darts and ping-pong.