Horsetooth Reservoir and Lory State Park Gravel Trails

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Location:
Fort Collins, CO
Date Published:
October 9, 2021
Distance:
25.45
mi
Elevation:
2087
ft
Gravel Ratio:
45% G / 55% P
Difficulty Rating:
⛰⛰
Enjoyability Rating:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Download GPX File
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This route is a portion of the Bike Sport's September 2021 Gravel Graceland Experience. Check out their site if you are looking for great gravel events and other route ideas in the Fort Collins area.

Highs:

This route is incredibly beautiful as it winds through the Pineridge and Maxwell Nature Areas, Horsetooth Reservoir and Lory Sate Park.
Pineridge and Maxwell Nature Areas trails (Foothills Trail, Reservoir Loop Trail, Fossil Creek Trail) have scenic views of the mountains and of the city. You can listen for the spotted towhees call, and look for mule deer which are common, but watch out for rattlesnakes here. 
You get epic views of Horsetooth Reservoir all long the reservoir road, Inletbay Trail, Swan Johnson Trail, and Shoreline Trail.
Once you are in Lory State Park and are biking on the South Vally Loop and West Vally Trail, you'll feel like you are further removed from other park visitors and are immersed in a unique landscape of tall grasses with views of water and cool rock formations.

This route is absolutely perfect for all the terrain a gravel bike can do! There is pavement, gravel paths, dirt roads, single track and double track!

The Valley Trails through Lory State Park are a fun challenge on the gravel bike. There is lots of single and double track, flowing curves, some punchy inclines and bridges. Most of the surfaces are smooth or slightly sandy but beware- there are some rocky areas that should be taken with caution, or might require a quick hop off the bike for some.

Lows:

On a calm weather day, we wouldn't have had any lows. This route is a blast to ride and is consistently scenic. We were smiling, pointing to cool things, and taking pictures the whole way!

Wind seems pretty typical in this area of Colorado and we had 18-25 mile per hour gusts that made some portions of our ride a little tougher than usual. If you are not up for that kind of adventure, and you have flexibility, make sure you check the hourly weather predictions and pick a calm day.

Due to the windy weather conditions, we changed our original plans to also do Redstone Canyon out-and-back. If you are interested in the original route with that portion which adds about 18 miles, you can find it HERE. Keep in mind the turn around point in the canyon is where private property begins. Do NOT trespass. Even though it looks like you could keep going at the end of the road on a map, that is 100% private property. 

Do this ride if you are looking for an incredibly scenic ride that shows you the amazing range a gravel bike can handle, with tons of easy access to bathrooms and water all along the route. This is perfect for a beginner gravel rider who has mostly ridden dirt roads, and is ready to test out some fun intermediate single track.

Other Notes:

We started and parked at Overland Park, where there was plenty of free, shaded parking and public bathrooms.

There were so many bathrooms/vault toilets along the way, we lost count. Literally, you are never more than 2-5 miles from a bathroom. Many of the parking lots, trailheads, campsites and bathroom areas also have drinking fountains and access to water.

You must have an Annual State Park Pass, or purchase an Individual Daily Pass to enter Lory State Park. As of October 2021, Daily Passes are $4 per day for any non-vehicle entry (by foot, bicycle, horseback, etc.). You can use cpwshop.com or the park's self-service station to purchase passes for day use.
No fees are required to bike the roads of Horsetooth Reservoir as long as you are not parking a vehicle inside the park area. 

There are lots of single track trails on this route. If It has rained recently you will want to check in on muddy trail closures. Trail openings/closures and conditions are posted on the Lory Facebook page, on COTREX, or you can call the park at 970-493-1623.

Because many of the route's trails split and cross other trails, you'll definitely want to be able to follow the route on a navigation system/ bike computer. (We recommend the Wahoo ELEMNT that we use.) There is pretty reliable cell phone service, but remember to download the route before you head out for a hassle-free experience!

If you should need any food or supplies on the route, at about mile 8 there is a little convenience store called Little Big’s Lakeside Market that you can stop at.

We did this in the Fall, and it was wonderful on a 70º day. Much of it was exposed though, so it might have been intense to do on a hot summer day.

Driving Directions

Route Contributor

Laura & Rose

Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.

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