We were introduced to the Red Mountain Open Space trails while on one of the FoCo Fondo training rides. We love the FoCo Fondo event and highly recommend their free training rides.
⚠️ The 10 miles of single track on this ride made us categorize this route as advanced. Expect a few miles of moderately rocky sections where you will have to hop on and off the bike. This route is NOT suitable for beginner gravel riders and will likely be challenging for intermediate riders who do not have mountain biking and singletrack experience.
This route is stunningly beautiful with farm land, rolling green grasslands, stark red mountains, gloriously quiet open space, and incredible views.
Because Red Mountain Open Space is about 25 miles North of Fort Collins in rural Colorado, you will find minimal car traffic on the roads. In addition, the trails in the park are closed to motorized vehicles and dogs are not allowed. Park usage is so light (even on a weekend), that you will feel like you almost have the whole place to yourself!
It was pretty awesome to see the Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain Open Space bison herd. When we did it, one of the big male bison was VERY close to the road, however, the bison pasture is 1,000 acres, so they may not always be visible. (Reminder: bison may appear tame, but they are wild and can be unpredictable. Never approach bison. View from trails, shelters, and viewing areas only.)
This entire route is incredibly exposed. Don’t forget hydration and sunscreen and check the weather closely to avoid getting caught in thunderstorms as there is no shelter and fast-moving storms and high winds are common.
We started early in the morning which helped us beat the heat. If you really want to avoid the heat, save this ride for the Fall or Spring.
There are cacti EVERYWHERE alongside the trails. Stay on the trials and use extreme caution if you have to pull to one side to let someone pass.
Do this ride if you are an intermediate to advanced gravel cyclist with plenty of single track experience and are comfortable with a very remote, exposed and adventurous route.
We parked at the intersection of North County Road 17 and West County Rd 74. There is no official parking there- we just parked on the shoulder of the country road. (We chose this as it was closest to Fort Collins, where we were driving in from.)
An alternative parking option is the Red Mountain Open Space Trailhead. There is an actual parking lot here as well as vault toilets.
There is no entrance fee and the park is open from sunrise to sunset. E-bikes are not permitted on soft/natural surface trails.
Check for trail closures and conditions BEFORE you head out. Both Red Mountain Open Space and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area closes annually from November through March, but actual dates may vary depending on seasonal changes. The city of Fort Collins posts info here.
Besides the vault toilets at mile 15 and 25.5, There are zero services on this route, so make sure you bring plenty of food and water/sports drink with you.
Rd 21 leading to the Red Mountain Open Space Trailhead has private property on both sides, but the road is open to the public.
⚠️ The 10 miles of single track on this ride made us categorize this route as advanced. Expect a few miles of moderately rocky sections where you will have to hop on and off the bike. This route is NOT suitable for beginner gravel riders and will likely be challenging for intermediate riders who do not have mountain biking and singletrack experience. Wider tires and low tire pressure is advisable.
It is likely that you will encounter equestrian riders in the Red Mountain Open Space trails. Yield to horses. Slow your roll and ask if it is ok to pass.
This is rattlesnake territory for sure. Watch out, look where you put your hands and feet, and always stay on the designated trails.
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that some of the first humans in North America resided here over 12,000 years ago, and people have lived and worked this land since. Out of respect for these cultures, collection of any artifact is strictly prohibited. Never touch the artifacts left on this land by Native Americans and their ancient forbearers. It is up to each of us to help preserve the ecological and cultural integrity of this area. If you find an artifact, take a photo, mark it on the map or take GPS coordinates, and contact (970) 619-4570.