Favorite Training Routes

The following are favorite running routes of our members. They are listed in order of increasing distances.

Fossil Creek Reservoir

Various short distances; gravel trail; somewhat hilly. Submitted by Jan Huie.

My hubby and I have a favorite, but you won’t find any good links to it, as Fossil Creek Reservoir is jointly managed by both the city and county. The county government link will get you there, but it’s circuitous at best and not too useful.

The entrance to Fossil Creek Reservoir is near exit 262 on the interstate – or go 2 miles south on Timberline from Harmony, and then 2.5 miles east.

There is a nice, clean concrete/brick restroom. There are three trails, all somewhat hilly and composed of pea-sized gravel. One is about 0.4 miles one way to a bird blind. The other is a lollipop loop, also to a bird blind, about 1.5-1.6 miles total distance. And along the highway, just off the access road to the park, is a trail composed of pea-sized gravel, somewhat soft and spongy, that’s 1 mile long.

No dogs are allowed in the park as it is a bird sanctuary.

Also the longer trail is closed off during the winter months to protect certain nesting birds. Call for dates.

One can see all sorts of wildlife, bald eagles, ducks, etc. And the peace and quiet are incredible.

Tavelli-College Ave.

2.5 miles; flat, gravel trail.

Run along the Canal Access Rd. trail just south of Tavelli Elementary School to College Ave. and back. The trail is on the south side of the canal. This route can be combined with the Tavelli-I25 trail to make a run of 9.7 miles.

CSU Campus Loop

3.2 miles; flat. [Strava times]

A loop just over 5k around the perimeter of Colorado State University.

Pineridge Loop

3.6 miles; semi-technical trail; flat with a few gradual uphills. [Strava times]

Horsetooth Rock Trail (a.k.a. Red Cliff Rd. Climb)

5.0 miles; trail; hilly. [Strava times for the 1.8-mile uphill segment]

A classic run (hike) from the main Horsetooth Mountain Park parking lot to Horsetooth Rock and back.

Towers Rd.

6.8 miles from/to Soderberg parking lot. Smooth dirt trail; very hilly. [Strava times for the 3.1-mile uphill segment]

A Category 2 climb in Horsetooth Mountain Park, meaning that it is steep.

The first quarter-mile from the Soderberg Open Space Trailhead along the Swan Johnson Trail is flat or even a gradual downhill. But the lung-busting, leg-aching uphill fun begins the moment you step on Towers Rd.

Every other Thursday evening, the Fort Collins Trail Runners hold a low-key time-trial up this.


7.2 miles out-and-back; flat, gravel trail.

Run along the Canal Access Rd. trail just south of Tavelli Elementary School to I-25 and back. The trail is on the south side of the canal. This route can be combined with the Tavelli-College Ave. trail to make a run of 9.7 miles.

Bacon Strip

10.0 miles; dirt roads; rolling. [Strava times]

A classic, rolling 10-mile loops east of Interstate 25 northeast of Fort Collins with little traffic on dirt roads.

Redstone Canyon (County Road 25E)

12.8 miles out-and-back; moderate ascent/descent. [Garmin info]

This is a run near Masonville that is definitely more challenging on the way out than the way back. It’s beautiful and very worth the effort.

Old Horsetooth Half-Marathon Route

13.1 mile loop; hilly. Submitted by Dan Berlin.

Basically start at the CSU stadium, up Centennial, over the North Dam to right on Bingham Hill Road, then another right on Overland, back to the stadium.

Spring Creek–Overland–Poudre Trail

20.9 miles; flat. Description submitted by Dan Berlin. [MapMyRun info]

Starting anywhere on the Poudre or Spring Creek bike trails, heading either direction to Overland and using Overland to connect the two trails between Spring Canyon Park/Cottonwood Glen Park and Lyon’s Park. This loop is about 21 miles, good for marathon long runs, also fairly protected from the wind, and plowed in the winter. Right now (late November 2013), however, there is a detour around College Ave. and the Spring Creek Trail. Coincidently, this loop runs on four of the seven Tortoise & Hare courses (Edora, Spring, Cottonwood, and Lee Martinez).

12 thoughts on “Favorite Training Routes

  1. Hi – Next week I will be joining my son’s High School XC team for our annual visit to Colorado. This year we are visiting Ft. Collins. I was hoping to lead them on a trail run at least one day next week. My question is if the trails you listed above are all pretty easy to navigate. I train on the Run Toto Run loop here in the great State of Kansas so I can appreciate how important knowing the right place to turn is. Any advice you can give will be well received. Thanks and we are looking forward to checking out at least one of the trails Ft. Collins has to offer.

    1. Yep, I think all of the routes are really easy to navigate. Not many turns and the trails are pretty obvious, especially the ones in town. The trails in Horsetooth are pretty well-marked with sign posts.

      Good luck and happy running!

  2. Hello,
    I’m looking for a roughly quarter mile run as steep as possible in the Fort Collins area. Suggestions please? Thanks.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I would recommend the following:

      1. The switchback just southwest of Hughes Stadium (County Rd. 42C) that goes up to Centennial Dr.
      2. The hill just north of Harmony (County Rd. 38E)/Centennial Dr. on the southeast side of the Horsetooth Reservoir
      3. The hill on Centennial Rd. climbing up by the north dam, as approached from the Bingham Hill side.

      These are the steepest hills within the city of Fort Collins and are all on pavement.

      To go steeper, you’ll have to go farther into the hills and off road. E.g., Towers Rd. in Horsetooth Mountain Park is plenty steep (and long too).

      Happy running!

  3. I’ve run Canal Access Road a few times but have never seen anyone else on it. Are we sure it’s open to the public? I would hate to be cited for trespassing.

    1. Hey Dan, sorry for the delayed response. For Redstone Canyon, best place to park is to pull off on the shoulder on 38E immediately before or after the turnoff to Redstone. Keep in mind that neighborhood has a number of HOAs, and it is only permissible to run on the main road; none of the side neighborhood spurs.

    1. There are lots of trails in Fort Collins, but not so many are shaded unless you are running in the foothills, like Lory State Park or Horsetooth.

      The main trails with varying amount of shade in town are the Poudre and Spring Creek Trails. You can easily do runs of 6-14 miles on those, especially since they connect with each other.

      A ton of other running trails in Fort Collins are here:

      Happy running!

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