Visit Loveland

Hikes & walks around Loveland, Colorado

Devil's Backbone photo by Dick Knapp Photography

It’s easy to get out and enjoy nature in Loveland, Colorado. Whether you’re looking for a hardcore hike or a nice Sunday afternoon stroll, there’s something for everyone.

Loveland Recreation Trail. HeidiTown.com
Pictured: Loveland Recreation Tail System

Loveland Recreation Trail System

Loveland boasts an 18 mile recreational trail (portions paved) that runs from the west side of town near Wilson Avenue and along the Big Thompson River corridor. The trail eventually turns north, where it borders the west side of Boyd Lake inside Boyd Lake State Park, before turning back to the west and traveling through natural wetlands.

Young bucks in the Big Thompson River on May 31, 2016. HeidiTown.com
You never know what you’ll see while walking or biking on the Loveland Recreation Trail System.

Walkers can hop on this trail at many different points and track their progress by the trail markers that are located along a large portion of the route. The markers began counting near Wilson Avenue and continue to the Highway 287 underpass (near 57th street). See entire trail map here.

This is a highly diverse trail system, and I love the portion between Wilson Avenue and Fairground Park because there is plenty of shade in the summer, which is great for those who like to get outside with their dog.

Devil’s Backbone Open Space

The trail at Devil’s Backbone is my favorite hike in Loveland. The area derives its name from the spectacular “backbone” that is one of Loveland’s most recognizable geological features.

Devil's Backbone photo by Dick Knapp Photography
Photo by Dick Knapp Photography

A hike through this Open Space  provides sweeping views as well as the opportunity to spot many birds and a variety of wildflowers during spring and summer.

The 2,198-acre Devil’s Backbone Open Space has 12 miles of trail connected to Rimrock Open Space and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, both to the north.

Get out on a local trail and take the dog for a walk
Hiking into Devil’s Backbone from Rimrock Open Space.

This hiking area has become extremely popular over the years and the trail can get very busy during peak times. Hike in the early morning to avoid the crowds. Also, beware that this open space area has very little shade, so plan accordingly and pack lots of water and don’t forget extra for Fido. Dogs are allowed on this trail system, but must be on a leash.

Equalizer Lake & Hauts Reservoir

In east Loveland, there are two large bodies of water surrounded by a trail system that is popular with walkers, joggers, bikers and birders. The aquatic setting provides an ideal habitat for herons, migrating waterfowl and year round residents such as geese.

fishing blue heron in Colorado. Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer. HeidiTown.com (2)
A blue heron at Equalizer Lake.

The wooded area on the west and northwest side of Equalizer Lake is home to many woodland birds and raptors, including owls. A pair of Osprey have been raising their young at Equalizer Lake for a number of years.

Equalizer Lake & Hauts Reservoir trail system. HeidiTown.com
Equalizer Lake & Hauts Reservoir trail system.

Visitors can park near the High Plains Environmental Center in High Plains Village at 1854 Piney River Drive. From here, follow the canal north towards Equalizer Lake and Hauts Reservoir. The trail is well-marked and includes interpretive signage. Find a map of this trail system here.

3 comments

  1. You forgot my favorite hidden gem in Loveland – Bobcat Ridge. Not much further than Devil’s Backbone and far less people (usually you are alone, rarely might encounter another hiker, mountain biker, or horse). Not dog friendly unfortunately, but horse friendly and a hot spot for mountain bikers. There are many off shoot trails to venture on, including one that takes you to an old cabin where you can enjoy a packed meal or simply mess around – or go on an adventure and connect to the Devil’s Backbone trails and eventually to Horsetooth. There is also a nearly 5 mile loop that is great for a little exercise or after work trail run.

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