Horsetooth Mountain (also refered to as Horsetooth Rock by the locals) is a small mountain that sits just 15 minutes outside of Fort Collins. The mountain gets its name from its distinctive shape which looks much like a giant horse’s tooth with rough chewing surface and groove. The best vantage point to see this shape is Horsetooth Road in downtown Fort Collins.
Because Horsetooth mountain dominates the western horizon of Fort Collins and is such a recognizable feature, many things and places in Fort Collins use Horsetooth in their logos and names: hotels, athletic teams, sporting events, outfitters, bowling alleys, the reservoir, Fat Tire beer etc.
About the hike: Horsetooth Mountain sits in Horsetooth Mountain Park which is administrated by Larimer County. The park encompasses roughly 2,500 acres and contains 28 miles of trails. There are several route variations to get to the summit of Horsetooth Mountain and all involve a couple mile class one hike up a well maintained trail (choose from many combinations of the following trails: Horsetooth Falls, Soderberg, Audra Culver, Horsetooth Rock, Wathen). All these trails lead to the same basic place at the base of the rock outcropping which makes the distinctive tooth. Once at the base, you can either climb the south portion of the tooth or the north portion. (You cannot get from one to the other without climbing all the way down first.) Both are class two scrambles, but I believe the north portion has a little more exposure and a smaller summit.
The summit offers awesome views of the Fort Collins/Loveland area. On a clear day you can see a long ways (sometimes you can even see Pikes Peak). And of course to the west Longs Peak and Meeker Peak dominate with the Mummy Range also prominent.
Horsetooth Mountain Park Trail Map
List of Trails
| Soderberg |
| Spring Creek |
Audra Culver Trail
- Easy Hike - To Horsetooth Falls and back - 1½ to 3 hours round trip. 2.25 miles
- Moderate Hike - Soderberg Trail to Spring Creek Trail to end of Wathen Trail, and return - 2 to 4 hours round trip. 4 miles
- Moderate Hike - Soderberg Trail to Horsetooth Rock Trail ending at Horsetooth Rock. Some bouldering required to get to the top - 3 to 5 hours round trip. 5 miles
- Hard Hike - Soderberg Trail to Horsetooth Falls to Spring Creek Trail to end of Mill Creek Trail, and return - full day trip. 9.2 miles
From Fort Collins take Harmony Road west. Once you pass Taft Hill Road Harmony becomes 38E. Continue along 38E as it climbs over the Hogback and skirts around the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir. 38E climbs up another ridge, descends down to the marina and then climbs another hill. At the top of this hill you'll find the parking lot for Horsetooth Mountain Park on your right (north side of the road). Horsetooth Mountain should be visible for almost all of the drive.
- Park Entrance Permits
- Cost = $6.00
- Required of all visitors (including walk-in and bike-in).
- Valid at Horsetooth Reservoir, Horsetooth Mountain Park, Carter Lake, Pinewood Reservoir, Flatiron Reservoir, and Ramsay-Shockey Open Space.
- Annual Park Entrance Permits (valid for the calendar year) are available at The Bison Visitor Center, at entrance stations prior to entering the park, at nearby retail outlets, and online.
- Daily Park Entrance Permits (valid from day of purchase until noon the next day) are available at The Bison Visitor Center and at entrance stations and self-service stations prior to entering the parks and open lands.
- General Regulations
- For specifics, ask a ranger for a copy of the Regulations Brochure.
- Fires and firewood collection are prohibited.
- Firearms and fireworks are prohibited.
- Dogs and other pets must be on leash at all times throughout the park. Loose dogs may be impounded.
- Hunting or trapping of wildlife is prohibited on all lands and water administered by Larimer County.
- Camping is allowed in the backcountry only and is prohibited in the parking lot. Check in with a ranger.
Area Toproping and Bouldering
Ringing Horsetooth Reservoir there are numerous good toproping and bouldering areas. A few of these are Duncan's Ridge, Piano Boulders, Torture Chamber, and Rotary. Rotary Park is a fee area but the rest are free.
Mountain Conditions/When To Climb
Due to it's low elevation and it's easy access, Horsetooth Mountain can be climbed all year round. Click on the icon below for current, detailed weather conditions. Also, you can try this link for park conditions. However, it's not updated very often
The dams that hold Horsetooth Reservior have been under construction for several years. This site gives details about what's been done, what they're doing currently, and when the whole project will finally be done.
- Official Horsetooth Reservoir Site
- Official Horsetooth Mountain Park Site