Springtime Strolls: Loveland’s Top Hikes

Devils Backbone Jumping

Did you resolve to get moving outdoors in 2024? We’re just a couple of months into the new year and we know it can be challenging to stay the course. We’re here to help! Spring is right around the corner and days are getting longer and temps are climbing. With more than 20 miles of soft-surface trails in and around Loveland, you’re sure to find inspiration to get those daily steps in. We’ve compiled our favorite area hikes and heart-pumping walks to help you show that resolution who’s boss. 

Devil’s Backbone (1725 Hidden Valley Dr., Loveland) is one of the most impressive and geologic landmarks in Larimer County, as well as an important cultural feature with a rich and colorful history. And it’s open year-round. Visitors can hike to find the “keyhole,” a unique arch within the backbone, or enjoy a portion of the 12 miles of trail in the 2,198-acre Devil’s Backbone Open Space, connecting Rimrock Open Space to Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. The area is perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, running, wildlife viewing and observing nature. An annual parks pass is required or there is a daily car fee of $10.
Granite rocks on Foothills trail west of Loveland

Round Mountain Foothills Nature Trail (1300 W U.S. Hwy 34, Loveland) is part of the Round Mountain National Recreation Trail (4.9 miles total), which also includes the Summit Adventure Trail. The Foothills Nature Trail is a one-mile easy hike. To take this trail, there is a split in the main trail shortly after leaving the parking lot (about a 1/4 mile in) which allows you to continue on the Foothills Nature Trail or instead hike to the summit of Sheep Mountain on the Round Mountain National Recreational Trail – Summit Adventure Trail portion, which is much more difficult and is rated as a moderate difficulty hike

The Round Mountain trailhead parking area is located in Big Thompson Canyon, approximately 4 miles west of The Dam Store on Colorado State Highway 34 (approximately 12 miles west of Loveland). The trailhead is located on Highway 34 (across from the entrance of Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park).  

A father and son stand by a pond at River's Edge Natural Area in Loveland.

Hiking Loveland's Natural Areas

Loveland’s natural areas contain diverse open lands and wildlife habitat, including sites in the Big Thompson River corridor, upland prairies, working farmlands, ponds, wetlands, and meadows. Open lands are accessible during the winter and spring (observe hours and rules), and many feature soft surface and/or paved recreation trails perfect for a walk. There are currently 18 open lands and natural areas sites in Loveland, offering a variety of nature-based urban outdoor experiences throughout the city. Our favorites include: 

A woman examines a trail map at Boedecker Natural Area in Loveland, Colorado.

Boedecker Bluff Natural Area is located along the north shore of Boedecker Reservoir State Wildlife Area on West 1st Street in Loveland and offers a one-mile natural-surface trail that follows the water. The trail is perfect for birdwatching and wildlife viewing with scenic lake and mountain vistas. The 17-acre natural was purchased in 2017 and acts as a buffer for wildlife using the reservoir and adjacent habitat. 

Water runs through Oxbow Bend Natural Area in Loveland.

Oxbow Natural Area includes two sites along the west Big Thompson River, separated by Rossum Drive. The sites feature soft-surface trails and access to the city’s 21-mile paved recreation trail system. Visitors can access other nearby soft-surface trails, including Hidden Hogback Trail and Mariana Butte summit trails, accessible from Rossum Drive. An extensive project to upgrade parking, trail connections and restrooms was just completed at Oxbow Natural Area, improving access and amenities. 

Prairie Ridge Natural Area on a sunny spring day.

Prairie Ridge Natural Area, located northwest of 57th St. and Wilson Ave. in northwest Loveland, includes a 2.4-mile multi-use natural surface trail system, and a .8-mile trail connection to Coyote Ridge Natural Area and 35 miles of regional trails, connecting to Devil’s Backbone Open Space and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.  

Whether you prefer a casual stroll on one of Loveland’s paved in-town trails or a soft-surface natural trail, Loveland has a number of options to choose from. (These are just a few of our favorites!) Loveland’s trails are sure to please on the next warm-weather day. So get out there and explore! Happy hiking, friends.