Bobcat Ridge Loop | CO | 12/01/18


Bobcat Ridge Loop | Ginny Trail to Powerline Trail | Bobcat Ridge Trailhead

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area | Masonville, CO

12/01/18 | 9.42 miles | 1,612′ gain | Class 1


Okay, I’m a little late posting this (like 12 days late) but better late than never to share a neat park I found. Bobcat Ridge Natural Area is near Masonville, CO (near Loveland and Fort Collins). It’s surprisingly large for being a city natural area, with over 15 miles of trails and 2,600 acres of land.

I’m always excited to try new trails, especially when they’re in a new area, and the Loveland/Fort Collins area is one I haven’t hiked much in (even though I’ve lived near there for years)! I found a few trails on AllTrails at Bobcat Ridge that I figured I’d string together to make a decent half day hike. I had originally planned on doing the outermost loop of the park, but as I should have known, the mileage on AllTrails was WAY off and my feet just couldn’t comfortably carry me that far (~12 miles instead of ~10), so I ended up modifying my route last minute to do a smaller loop (more on that later!).

I pulled into the trailhead around 8:30am on a Saturday, and I assumed I’d get one of the last spots since I was starting so late, but there were only 3 other cars in the lot when I arrived. I love having room to breathe and take my time to enjoy nature, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d be hiking alone most of the day.

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Trailhead views of the gorgeous red hogback ridge to the east of the park.

The trail started off pretty gradual, wide, and easy to follow. There were a few trail intersections, but each are labeled with trail names and distances, so the park is very easy to navigate. I followed signs to the Ginny Trail, as that was my main goal for the day. The Ginny Trail heads to the top of Green Ridge and traverses across, with views on both sides.

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The start of the trail, with the valley and Green Ridge in the background.

Interestingly enough, though the park is called Bobcat Ridge, neither the main ridge (Green Ridge) nor the hogback (unnamed) are called Bobcat Ridge.

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Looking back at the hogback.
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Gorgeous views of the Hogback and distant Milner Mountain (6,881′).

In 2000, a campfire in Bobcat Gulch ignited dry grasses, causing a 10,600 acre fire that swept through most of the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. I wasn’t sure which gulch was Bobcat Gulch as there were numerous gulches along the trail, but it turns out Bobcat Gulch is a few miles away!

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Not Bobcat Gulch, but one of few pockets of the park that the fire missed.
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Looking back down the trail after entering the burn area.
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Burn area
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There were numerous short bridges like this along the Ginny Trail, crossing dry washes that I’m assuming have water in the spring.
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The Ginny Trail continues through the burn area to the top of Green Ridge.
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Another bridge, but a very narrow one! I had fun balancing to cross.
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My deer friends that were not at all concerned about my presence.
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Nearing the top of the ridge, the views to the east improve. Here’s a view looking down to the plains and Green Ridge Glade Reservoir.

The valley to the east of Green Ridge is also called a glade, and is officially called Green Ridge Glade.

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The trail steepens a bit toward the top of the ridge, but is still easy to follow.

As soon as you reach the top of the ridge, you have views in all directions.

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From the top of the ridge, looking southwest to Sheep Mountain (8,450′) in the center and Palisade Mountain (8,264′) on the right.
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Looking west to Palisade Mountain (8,264′) on the left, Crosier Mountain (9,250′) in the center (background), and Storm Mountain (9,918′) on the right.
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Another view to the south. There were many interesting rock formations on Green Ridge, made visible since the fire.
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Looking north, I thought for sure this had to be Bobcat Gulch. I can’t actually find a name for it, but it’s NOT Bobcat Gulch. The high point of Green Ridge (7,402′) is just right of the gulch. The Ginny trail does not go to the summit. The left mountain is Spruce Mountain (7,781′).
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Looking east through the burn area, across Green Ridge Glade, with the hogback barely visible and Milner Mountain dominating the background.

The Ginny trail traverses across much of Green Ridge and eventually drops down into Mahoney Park Nature Bowl and the trail intersection with the D.R. Trail and Powerline Trail.

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Mahoney Park Nature Bowl
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Another view east
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Mahoney Park has many patches of trees untouched by the Bobcat Gulch fire.
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In Mahoney Park
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Looking back at Green Ridge from Mahoney Park

After reaching the trail intersection, I made a decision to take the Powerline Trail instead of the D.R. Trail. I had wanted to do the larger loop, but since the AllTrails mileages were off, I wasn’t feeling up to doing a 12 mile day. So I cut my hike short. I wasn’t thrilled to have to do this, but being comfortable is important and the Powerline Trail was actually prettier than I expected a 2-track powerline access road to be.

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A gulch along the Powerline Trail. Again, NOT Bobcat Gulch
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The Powerline Trail back in Green Ridge Glade. Just ahead is a circle of stones believed to be a tipi ring. The rocks would have held the tipi in place. Many of these rings have been found in the area, but this one is perfectly preserved.

The following pictures are a few quick shots from Green Ridge Glade.

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The bottom of the Powerline Trail intersects with the Valley Loop Trail and I followed that back to the trailhead. My loop ended up being just under 10 miles, but this could be adjusted to nearly any length depending on your ability. This is a very family-friendly park, with many interpretive signs talking about the wildlife and history of the area. There is also a historic cabin on-site. Anyone can find something fun to do at Bobcat Ridge, whether it be a short walk, a long hike, or a family picnic.


Chelsea


 

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