When you think of mountain biking in Fort Collins, what comes to mind? Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Devils Backbone. Foothills Trail, Coyote Ridge and Ginny Trail. Long steep climbs…rocky technical descents. These are definitely some of the most popular rides in town for the experienced rider. But to the young or new rider, these areas can be a painful and unpleasant introduction to the true joys of mountain biking. So where does one go to find true beginner and family-friendly trails for mountain biking in Fort Collins?
In fact, the Fort Collins area has numerous opportunities for family-friendly mountain biking. The closest and easiest access for many is Pineridge Natural Area and Spring Canyon Park. Pineridge offers 7 miles of soft surface trails that can be fun for the whole family. While there are a couple sections that will challenge the beginner rider, they can easily be walked with the bike for those who are uncomfortable with those particular sections. Overland Mountain Bike Club has partnered with the City of Fort Collins to place teaching signs along several sections of this trail, emphasizing techniques for ascending, descending, passing other riders as well as general trail etiquette. Pineridge is easily accessed from the west end of Horsetooth Rd, where it enters Spring Canyon Park.
The Spring Canyon Mountain Bike Skills Park, which is an area within the much larger Spring Canyon Park, is another family-friendly area. It is currently undergoing a complete re-design/re-construction. It will feature short sections of skills features similar to those encountered on area trails, such as rocks and ledges. The skills features are all progressive, meaning there are similar features built for beginner, intermediate and advanced-level riders, including toddlers just getting their first taste of biking on their Strider bikes. A portion of the skills park is currently open, but it will not be fully completed until late fall of 2016. This is the perfect spot to gain the needed comfort-level on the bike before hitting the trails!
Lory State Park offers several miles of beginner level trails as well that are fun for everyone, which is where Overland Mountain Bike Club hosts their annual “Take-A-Kid Mountain Biking Day” event. The West and East Valley trails offer a mostly smooth 4.5-mile loop around the interior valley of the park. The valley trails also extend to the south into Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (HMOS) for those looking for a few more miles and a slight step up in difficulty. Lory State Park is also currently in the design phase for a new skills park which should be completed in 2017. It will contain jump and flow lines, a pump track to practice bike handling, skinnies to practice balance, as well as rock features. There will even be a tot track and tot skills area for toddlers to play in with their strider bikes. These will all be progressive in size and ability level, offering something for every skill and age level. Another great place to practice and play before hitting the longer trails!
Other options directly in town include sections of the paved Spring Creek Trail and Poudre Trail. These paved hike and bike paths are well-marked on all Ft Collins maps, but they offer some unmarked options as well. There are soft surface “social trails” that have developed over time along multiple sections of each. They tend to parallel the paved trail, oftentimes diving in and out of the trees and shrubs along the way, and are usually never more than several yards off of the paved trail. These are not maintained in anyway by the City, so trail conditions may vary. Several of these connect with soft surface trails in other parks and natural areas, just be sure to verify the specific regulations of each before riding your bike on them. Some of these areas worth exploring for a family-friendly mountain bike ride include Red Fox Meadows NA, Rolland Moore Park, Fischer NA, Arapahoe Bend, Prospect Ponds, Riverbend Ponds and McMurry NA.
There are miles and miles of soft-surface trails to be explored in this wonderful city. Wherever you choose to ride your mountain bike, just plan to ride safely, follow “Share the Trail” rules, always wear a helmet, and always wear a smile!
Several family-friendly mountain bike events are coming up as well:
- 9/25 – 10am – Soapstone Prairie NA Mountain Bike Ride – hosted by Fort Collins Natural Areas – http://www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/
- 10/1 – 9am – Take-a-Kid Mountain Biking Day – hosted by Overland Mountain Bike Club – held at Lory State Park – http://overlandmtb.org/fall-take-kid-mountain-biking-day-saturday-october-1st-sign-now/
- 9/24 – 8am – Lory State Park Trail Day – trail work day on the trails in Lory State Park – non-riding event – http://overlandmtb.org/lory-trails-day-saturday-september-24th-show-lory-state-park-love-sign-now/
Club Administrator – Overland Mountain Bike Club
Happy for your bike club, I hope there is one near mine in Castle Rock