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A mountain bike trail runs along a ridge in a dry, rocky landscape.

Looking for local route recommendations? We got you. This is a curated collection of the very best road, mountain, and family rides in the area, complete with digital route maps!

Maxwell

Distance: 5.9
Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

Locals head to Maxwell Natural Area for their after-work trail fix on this fast, flowy 6-mile singletrack loop (open to hikers and runners, too). The preserve contains a section of the Foothills Trail, which extends into Reservoir Ridge Natural Area to the north and Pineridge Natural Area to the south. Link them together for nearly 15 miles of singletrack fun through windswept grasses, mountain mahogany shrubland, and clumps of scrubby ponderosa. The views of Horsetooth Reservoir and Lory State Park are spectacular, with red-sandstone cliffs and rippling green meadows.

Pineridge Natural Area

Distance: 7
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Seven miles of flowy single- and doubletrack less than six rideable miles from town in the scenic Pineridge Natural Area make this multi-use network a popular recreation spot. Beginners can build confidence on Reservoir Loop, a dirt road that circles Dixon Reservoir. Graduate to the slightly more challenging Timber, South Loop, and Foothills trails, where you’ll encounter a few rock gardens, short climbs, and quick descents as you pedal through shrubby grassland dotted with ponderosa pine. Or follow Foothills north: The trail extends for more than nine miles into Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge Natural Areas. Expect to share the trail with runners and hikers, especially on weekends.

Hewlett Gulch

Distance: 8
Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

This eight-mile lollipop in the Lower Poudre Canyon area of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest starts along Gordon Creek past several crumbling 1920s homestead foundations, through gorgeous wildflower meadows, and in and out of shady forest. After roughly two miles, hang a left at the fork and up a set of switchbacks that give way to rolling singletrack. Once you reach the summit (mile 4.5), the trail descends through a challenging rock garden and back to the trailhead. (Going right at the fork means you’ll climb—or hike-abike—the rocks and descend the switchbacks.) This trail rates high on the adventure scale, with 13 creek crossings.

Foothills Trail

Distance: 9.3
Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

Foothills is a multi-use combination of single and doubletrack through sage- and ponderosa-studded grassland that connects three popular networks in the Pineridge, Maxwell, and Reservoir Ridge Natural Areas. There are several trailheads to choose from. If you park at the west side of Dixon Reservoir in Pineridge (off Dixon Canyon Road), you’ll get your climbing done first and enjoy a rollicking descent back to the car with views of the foothills and the city to either side. The steep and narrow rocky sections as you climb into Maxwell will challenge newer riders, before the trail gives way to spectacular Horsetooth Reservoir views at the top. You’ll share the trail with hikers and runners, so use caution especially as you fly downhill. Oh, and watch for prairie dogs.

Old Flowers Road

Distance: 12.3
Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

Bank endurance miles on this scenic jeep road west of Fort Collins. The terrain isn’t technical, but the average grade (six percent, with pitches as steep as 24) will test your fitness as you ascend through ranchland, aspen glades, wide-open grasslands, and thick pine forest. The climbing will challenge you, the descents will thrill you, and the ride back—net downhill—will make you want to do it all over again. Afterward, head to the café at Mishawaka Amphitheatre in Stove Prairie Landing to refuel on classic pub fare and a craft brew on the deck overlooking Poudre Canyon.

Bobcat Ridge

Distance: 13
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area is a 2,600-acre preserve in the undulating Front Range foothills. The 13 miles of trail open to mountain bikers (as well as foot and horse traffic) start mellow and become more challenging as you ride west. Warm up with Valley Loop counterclockwise (go right from the trailhead), which twists and turns in and out of pine forest, and past a restored 19th-century log cabin. Then hang a sharp left onto Powerline trail and follow it counterclockwise for a challenging climb (7 percent average grade), until it meets Ginny at Mahoney Park. Take in the stunning alpine meadow views while you catch your breath before ripping the steep two-mile descent down Ginny back to Valley Loop.

Lory State Park

Distance: 20
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

This 2,600-acre state park offers 20 miles of mountain bike trail with something for everyone. Newer riders will love Westridge, a 1.5-mile jeep road that meanders through pine forest and wildflower meadows and offers views of the Continental Divide and Longs Peak. Shoreline is a one-mile stretch with some technical spots through grasslands and red-sandstone hogback to the edge of Horsetooth Reservoir. Experienced riders will be challenged on the four-mile Timber Trail or the two-mile Howard Trail, which climb through shrubland into the forested ridge behind Arthur's Rock. Or visit the Corral Center Mountain Bike Park, a 69,900 square-foot purpose-built park near the visitor center with dirt jumps, a pump track, and a skills area.

Horsetooth Mountain Park

Distance: 29
Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

You could ride this extensive system in the scenic 2,711-acre Horsetooth Mountain Park Open Space all day and still not hit everything. The park boasts more than 20 named trails for near-endless combinations. Climb South Ridge from the Horsetooth trailhead for two steep miles, then jump on the trails in the west side of the park including Wathen, a fast, technical singletrack descent that links to Spring Creek. Hang a left toward Mill Creek, a fun three-mile descent to the adjacent Lory State Park. Or turn right on Loggers and hook up with the multitude of trails in the middle of the park. The trails on the east side of the park (Shoreline, Nomad, Inlet Bay) tend to be less technical and are a good choice for newer riders.

Coyote Ridge

Distance: 2.1
Difficulty: Intermediate

There’s only one trail in Coyote Ridge Natural Area, but it’s an excellent gateway to some of the most satisfying networks near Fort Collins. Follow Coyote Ridge Trail, two miles of single- and doubletrack, to the top of the hogbacks and take in the sweeping city and mountain views. Descend for a bit on Rim Rock Trail, then climb until you hit Blue Sky, a 6.2-mile stretch of flowy singletrack that hooks up with Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park to the north. Or you can go south (left) on Blue Sky into Devil’s Backbone Open Space. Hang a right onto Indian Summer for a challenging loop with some tight switchbacks and a flowing descent back to Blue Sky.

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