sunflower

Roadtrip to the Rockies: Lory State Park

What better way to spend a long holiday weekend, but to hike.  The Rockies have gotten so much snow this year that hiking has been long awaited.

On Friday, my friend, Danelle, and I hiked in Lory State Park near Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins.  Tons of trails criss-cross one another to provide countless options of hikes in the park.

The Trail

We decided to hike Stout Loop via Horsetooth Falls Trail, an option we found on AllTrails with a little twist.  We took the west side of Stout Loop and returned via Spring Creek Trail instead of hiking all of Stout Loop.

This adjustment shortened the 7.1 mile loop by at least a mile, maybe a little more, and provided more water access points which I wanted for Sheena, the 12.5 year old German Shepherd I had for the week.

We expected Lory State Park to be crowded on the holiday weekend, so we arrived reasonably early at 8:45 after a 1.5 hour drive from Denver.  Upon paying the $9 entry fee, we joined lots of families in the parking lot.

The Hike in Lory State Park

Fortunately, they all had to use the restroom, so we got a small jump on most the crowd.  After a short climb for the first quarter mile we descended the rest of Horsetooth Falls Trail as we passed through a southwestern terrain dotted with wildflowers.

Nice View

Soon we reached the trail junction, where we turned left up the west side of Stout Loop.  The gradual ascent provided lovely views of the valley and Horsetooth Reservoir.  Normally, I’m not that fond of hiking near cities as I don’t really like houses in the views, but this morning’s light reflecting off the red stone coupled with rain clouds and a slight haze captured a serene scene.

Lovely Wildflowers

After taking in the views, we continued counter-clockwise as we descended Spring Creek Trail stopping regularly to admire the wildflowers that were also well liked by beetles and bees! 

We were fortunate for hiking in the morning beneath overcast skies, as the path was far from shaded, and it would have otherwise been very hot with few places for Sheena to cool down given the creeks were more like stagnant puddles.

Horsetooth Falls

We saved Horsetooth Falls for the end.  The top view was uneventful at best, so we continued down to its base.  Due to all the snow this year, I was expecting more than trickle!  I wonder if the water would even be flowing in a dry year.  Once I got over my initial disappointment, I realized it was a pleasant spot in the shade, especially for Sheena who rested in the pool of water.

Upon returning to the car, Danelle saw two deer.  Spotting wildlife is always a treat to me, so it was a nice way to cap off our hike in Lory State Park!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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