Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,730.00 ft (527.30 m)
Trail type
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
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Horsetooth Rock is a beautiful and popular hike located just 25 minutes from downtown Fort Collins, CO. There are many hiking options to the summit’s scenic view, but a fantastic 6-mile loop leaves from the trailhead on W County Road 38 E and passes a waterfall as well as multiple vistas of the surrounding landscapes.

The loop leaves along the Horsetooth Rock Trail for about a quarter mile. Follow the signs until the summit at mile 2.4. The trail switchbacks along rocky trail, gaining roughly 1500 feet of elevation before reaching the summit at 7208 feet. The final 0.4 miles to (and from) the summit is an out-and-back under several imposing rocky outcrops. The trail which reaches a scramble at the very end near the summit, which may be challenging for height-averse hikers and runners. One can soak in the views to the north from below the final scramble, but the 360-degree from the summit 30 feet above is stunning.

The descent can follow the same path as the ascent for a 4.8-mile round trip out-and-back, but a slightly longer and more interesting variation, after descending the summit trail, loops around the Wathan Trail and descends numerous steep switchbacks through scrub and sunny forest until mile 3.8. At this point the trail turns right onto the Spring Creek Trail, passing through open forest along well-maintained trail. At 4.6 miles, the trail passes Horsetooth Falls, which is quite scenic when there is adequate flow, and rather unspectacular by midsummer when the stream dries up. At the falls the loop turns right onto the Horsetooth Falls Trail.

At around 5.1 miles the trail opens up into a grassy hill with wider views that improve as the trail continues. The trail begins to slope upwards again for another 200 feet of elevation before rejoining the Horsetooth Rock Trail at 5.4 miles, which then returns to the trailhead after another 0.8 miles of wide, switchbacking downhill later.

The hike to Horsetooth Rock is a wonderful half-day excursion for adventurous families or those looking to escape the city without driving too far. Its location close to Fort Collins means it sees a lot of foot traffic during busy periods, but the views are stellar and well worth the trek to the summit. Be sure to bring plenty of water, as the trails have limited shade!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Day use fee

Open Year-round



Great summit views. Numerous trail options. Ample parking.


Little shade on trail. Crowded at popular times.

Trailhead Elevation

5,805.00 ft (1,769.36 m)

Highest point

7,208.01 ft (2,197.00 m)


Near lake or river
Family friendly

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Horsetooth Reservoir County Park
Soderberg Open Space + Horsetooth Mountain Open Space

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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