Located just west of Fort Collins, Colorado, Lory State Park provides its visitors with some spectacular scenery and remarkable views. On January 12th, I arrived around 10:30 to find the trails and mountains snow covered thanks to the snowstorm that came through the previous day. Upon parking at the Homestead Picnic Area, I briefly planned out my hike which would later turn out to be a little bit over 6 miles round trip. Nonetheless, it was late enough in the morning that the snow was beginning to melt in the open areas revealing a significant layer of mud. Before long, I was on my way up the Well Gulch Nature Trail taking in the views of both the mountains and the reservoir. I wasn’t exactly sure how nice the weather was going to be, but it actually turned out to be a peaceful afternoon with some sun and scattered clouds.
With the birds starting to chirp more and more, I reached the intersection of the Overlook Trail and began to get some better views of the Horsetooth Reservoir. I enjoyed this part of my hike because it had a mixture of both open spaces and wooded areas that looked like they would have some enjoyable stream crossings during the spring and early summer months. In addition to that, the elevation was pretty easy going and featured only some small up and down hill sections. Something else to keep in mind is that if you go during the warmer months out of the year is to watch for both mountain bikers and those who are riding horseback as well and to yield accordingly. I didn’t have to worry about that this time around because the trails were only open for hiking due to the muddy conditions.
The end of the Overlook Trail leads right into a trail leading you to the summit of Arthur’s Rock. Specifically, you will find yourself embarking on the Arthur’s Rock Trail which seemed surprisingly short to me as being a mere 1.7 miles to the top if you start at the actual trailhead. For me, it was even shorter than that as I came onto the trail about three tenths of a mile in. However, the switchbacks provide you with a great workout and I definitely felt it the next day.
Aside from the beautiful views, this might have easily been the most slippery trail that I’ve hiked in a long time. But the scenery and breathtaking views at the top always make the struggle seem worthwhile. Regarding the most difficult part of this hike, I would have to say that it was the part right before the summit of Arthur’s Rock. It was pretty much like walking up steep and slippery steps with pretty much nothing to grab onto in case you fall. With that being said, it would be wise to have great traction if you plan on doing this hike in the winter months.
Despite going up less than a thousand feet in total elevation, it feels like you are much higher than the 6,780 foot summit of Arthur’s Rock. The views at the top were truly remarkable because you see both dramatic views of the reservoir as well as snow drifts that are several feet deep as well. For even better views, you can even climb the rocks a little bit higher up. Although I was only up there for several minutes, it was really humbling and reminded me why I love hiking and all of the amazing things you can experience while out exploring nature.
Because I only saw a smaller portion of this park, I do plan to revisit at a later time to potentially camp at one of the backcountry campgrounds and explore some of the other trails.
Other Important Information
The entrance fee for Lory State Park is $8 for a day pass that expires at noon the following day. . With 26 miles of trails in the park, you can also find plenty more options for hiking at nearby Horsetooth Mountain Open Space as well as the trails that are located in close proximity to the reservoir itself.