Colorado is a land of natural beauty and rugged wilderness, with plenty of gorgeous hikes for those who love the outdoors. While many places charge an entry fee, there are plenty of free parks with free hikes available. Here are three recommended free hikes, two in the Fort Collins area and one at the famous Pikes Peak. Get outside and enjoy these freebies!
Fossil Creek Open Space:
Situated alongside the picturesque Fossil Creek Reservoir, the Fossil Creek Open Space offers three trails and 843 acres of habitat to a variety of species. Unfortunately, fishermen, pets and biking are not welcome at this park, but bird watchers and hikers will enjoy Fossil Creek Open Space. This park is located off of Carpenter Road, roughly a mile west of I-25. Trail names include Sandpiper Flats Trail, Heron Loop Trail, and the Cattail Flats Trail. The longest of these is the Cattail Flats at 0.76 miles, certainly not a bad hike, even for children. Hours are from dawn until dusk, although certain trails may be closed to protect migrating wildlife.
Devil’s Backbone Trail:
The Devil’s Backbone Trail is on the Devil’s Backbone Open Space property, and is southeast of the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. It offers 2198.3 acres of land to explore, with designated trails throughout it (9 trails in all, the shortest at 1.2 miles, the longest at 5.5 miles). This hiking area is off of Hidden Valley Drive and is very popular at times, so be sure to arrive early in case of a full parking lot!
Crags Hike to Pikes Peak:
Pike’s Peak is world famous and the Crags Hike is one of the free routes to the top, and supposedly the shortest free route to the top as well. It is roughly 12 miles round trip and involves a climb of roughly 4200 ft gain in elevation. It is suggested that hikers plan for the entire trip to take almost 8 hours, so don’t leave when it is almost getting dark! Parking is free at the end of the road by Crags Campground (drive all the way to the trail head), although if you plan to use the facilities you need to pay an entry fee. The campground can be found off of Highway 67, roughly 4 miles south of the town of Divide.