Living in Fort Collins has about a billion benefits. It is consistently ranked in the top ten best cities to live in. You could go to a new bar or restaurant every day for six months before running out of establishments. There’s a plethora of hippie-esk cafes and events, like the New Belgium Brewing Tour de Fat. The entire town dresses in the most outlandish costumes and pedals their bikes, while drunk on Fat Tire Ale, through the heart of town.
One of the greatest aspects of FoCo is having the Rockies in your backyard. Long’s Peak is only an hour away as is the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park. You don’t have to drive an hour to climb some nice rocks though. Horsetooth Rock stands at a humble 7,200 feet, but it looms over the city like its guardian.
Horsetooth can be climbed in five miles roundtrip, gaining about 1,400 feet in elevation. I’ve gotten in the habit of running the trail in an hours time. The trail is quick, easy and because of its close proximity to FoCo, very heavily trafficked….very heavily trafficked.
It is the best workout your legs will get this century if you decide to muscle up and run the trail. The trail is also horse, dog and biker friendly. I haven’t been up there once without seeing some biker with calves of iron steaming their way up the trail.
Near the summit you’ll get up close and personal with the “tooth” that gives the peak its name. The actual gap in the summit poses a hefty risk to the under-skilled and/or over-confident climber, as a memorial to a man who fell to his death reminds ascending climbers. After a quick scramble up some granite you’ll have two gorgeous, if not contradicting views. Look to the east and you’ll be high above Fort Collins, only to realize the city is basically located in the woods. FoCo feels like more tress than structures. Brilliant, no?
Look to the west and it’s endless mountains and valleys. As far as I can tell, Horsetooth is the first official mountain of the Colorado Rockies, nothing but plains lie to the east. Welcome to the gateway of the Rockies! Soak it in!