This route is stunningly beautiful with rolling hills, stark red mountains and gloriously quiet open space. (Rd 21 leading to the Red Mountain Open Space Trailhead has private property on both sides, but the road is open to the public. I think a total of two cars passed us when we biked it on a Sunday afternoon in Jan.)
At the time we did this (Jan.2020) Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space trails were closed for the winter so we couldn’t bike our planned loop route. Bummer. (You can see the original route here.)
Since then (May 2020), we have been informed from a gravel rider that the the trail that leads west from the parking lot at the end of County Rd 15 (Soapstone Prairie Natural Area) is closed to anyone but park personnel who maintain the bison heard that now resides there. Making a loop was impossible, but the the out and back ride is still a nice one. We would now just recommend starting at one end or the other rather than in the middle like we did.
Do this ride if you want to do a beautiful and quiet route before the trails open in the winter months.
Check for trail closures and conditions BEFORE you head out. Apparently Soapstone Prairie Natural Area closes annually from December through the end of February, but we didn’t realize this until we biked right up to a closed gate!
The city of Fort Collins posts info here.
There are zero services out there on this route. No bathrooms and no places to stop for food, so make sure you bring enough food and water/sports drink with you.
Originally, we rode this route in January, so it was a cool 50º and there was almost zero car traffic. We imagine it would be great in the spring and fall as well. In the Summer, it will be both exposed and uncomfortably hot with perhaps more traffic going to the recreation area.
We started this ride from the corner of Buckeye Rd and Terry Lake Rd. (There is nothing there- we just parked on the shoulder of the country road.)