Explore Colorado

Two Hikes in a Day along Colorado’s Front Range – Horsetooth and Devil’s Backbone

Want to do two very different hikes in a day? It’s easy along Colorado’s Front Range. My hometown friend Danny came into Denver with a goal to log some miles. Since the High Country continues to be covered in snow I suggested we do something along the Front Range. My pick – Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins. I’ve done it a couple of times but always happy to hike it with someone who’s never done been to the top of Horsetooth. It was Memorial Weekend so I suggested we head out early. It’s about an hour and a half from downtown Denver and we were on the trail by 8a. The initial part of the hike traverses a meadow up to a brief stint on a dirt road. From there you hike through the forest then across slick rock to the final pitch where you scramble up to the top. The views of Fort Collins and the Colorado plains to the east and Hidden Valley to Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park are superb as you stand on top of Horsetooth Rock. Interesting tidbit about the rock – according to local legend its the remains of an evil giant’s heart cut twice by the powerful Chief Maunamoka forever protecting his people from the wrath of the giant.

The hike is 4.6 miles round trip so we had worked up an appetite. We headed into Fort Collins to Ginger and Baker, one of my favorite places for brunch. I splurged for a mimosa and their biscuit Benedict with spinach and avocado with hollandaise sauce on the side. This gal was in brunch ecstasy with the southern spin on a Benedict. While nibbling our last bites of brunch we decided to do another hike on our way back to Denver.

I suggested Devil’s Backbone Open Space for a mild hike to the Keyhole formation. The trail takes you across the wide open space of the grassland and you follow the spine of the rocky formations that go on for miles. We took the upper trail to the Keyhole then completed the loop for a 2.1-mile hike. We got it done before the afternoon storms rolled in. Two great hikes along with a scrumptious brunch makes for a wonderful day along the Front Range.