Horsetooth Falls are located in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space west of the reservoir of the same name and the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. A 1.2 mile trail leads from a large parking area, with restrooms, running water, and maps, to a forty foot tall (approx.) waterfall in the foothills. The trail winds up and down gentle hills, over a wooden footbridge, and past a few benches on its way to the falls. Views of snow-capped mountains can be seen to the west and the plains and red rock cliffs can be seen to the east. The Horsetooth Falls Trail is a hiking only trail. Pets are allowed.
To reach the trailhead to the falls, head west from Fort Collins on W County Road 38E (W. Harmony in Fort Collins) for about six miles (from S. Taft Hill Rd.) and look for the parking area on the right. There is a fee of six dollars per vehicle to enter the park. Credit cards and cash can be used at a payment kiosk upon entrance. On nice days and especially weekends, the parking area can be crowded. When I went, I had to drive around the lot several times waiting for an open space. If you’re looking for a secluded hike, Horsetooth Falls may not be ideal for you.
The trail starts out going uphill, drops into a valley where it crosses a small bridge, and then heads back uphill on the other side. the trail splits towards the top of the hill. A sign directs hikers to the top or bottom of the falls. At the top of the falls, the stream cascades into a few rocky pools and colorful cliffs can be seen to the east. At the bottom there’s a bench to sit and view the waterfall. The volume of water coming over the falls varies greatly depending on the time of year and recent precipitation. As can be seen in the photos, the waterfall wasn’t much more than a trickle in early April (2013).
The Horsetooth Falls Trail is only one of many trails in the Horsetooth Mountain Park. Twenty-six miles of trails traverse the park. Many are open to mountain biking and horseback riding. Camping is prohibited, but is allowed at Lory State Park which borders Horsetooth Mountain Open Space to the north.
Related posts – Bobcat Ridge Open Space (about 4 miles south of Horsetooth Mountain Park)