Keyhole & Wild Loop | Devil’s Backbone Open Space
Loveland, CO | 08/26/19 | 2.71 miles | 334′ gain | Class 1
My definition of “hike” has changed a lot this year. I started blogging a year ago (October 2018) and that (as well as the 52-hike challenge) inspired me to start keeping track of my hikes. Earlier this year, I would classify anything on a trail (and not on a sidewalk) as a hike. But now I view the easier, local trails as more like “nature walks”. I’ve done a number of different nature walks over the past few months, usually with one of the dogs, and while I keep track of the distance for my own purposes, I don’t post them on here. Even though I find joy in walking a 2 mile loop around a local lake and throwing a stick in the waves for the dogs, I don’t think it’s really the same as a 10 mile hike up a 13er.
Devil’s Backbone is one of those trails that falls somewhere in the gray area between nature walk and hike. It’s local, easy, mostly flat, so that seems like a nature walk. But geologically, it’s incredibly interesting so I’ve decided to call it a hike just so I can write this post.
When Kyle and I lived in Loveland, we went to Devil’s Backbone fairly often. (It was so close, how could we not!?) But I hadn’t been back since moving to Greeley a few years ago, and when my friend Tori mentioned that she’d never been, we planned a quick trip.
There are a number of longer trail options that start from the Devil’s Backbone Open Space parking lot but it was summertime and it was hot, so we did just the shortest loop to see the Backbone and the Keyhole. The geological feature called Devil’s Backbone is visible most of the trail, and it really does look like a giant, creepy backbone. As we walked along, we admired each “vertebra” as well as the final wildflowers of summer.
The Keyhole is a natural archway through the Backbone that offers views to the mountains on the other side. There’s a nice sitting area on the east side of the Keyhole that I assume is where most people stop, but some fun (and privacy) can be had by climbing through the Keyhole and up the rocks on the other side.
We finished the loop and found our way back to the trailhead, of course stopping at each overlook and interpretive sign along the way. It was super quick and super easy, but I still think it’s worth a visit. Hike, nature walk, or whatever you want to call it.