Lumberjack Loop | Lory State Park & Horsetooth Mountain Open Space
Portions of the Mill Creek, Loggers, Sawmill, and South Valley Trails
Bellvue, CO | 04/11/20| 6.04 miles | 1,012′ gain
(Okay, I totally made up the name of this loop, but with trail names like Mill Creek, Loggers, and Sawmill, it should be expected that I’d think of lumberjacks!)
Some of the larger parks near me have so many trails that it’s taken quite a bit of thinking and studying maps to figure out the best way to visit each of these trails. (If I could walk/run/bike 15-20 miles per day, this might be easier haha!) One of my ideas looped in a handful of trails in both Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.
I parked at the Arthur’s Rock Trailhead in Lory State Park. Since I’d already purchased an annual state park pass, I avoided day use fees. The crowds headed toward Arthur’s Rock (probably the busiest trail in the park) and I headed south on the South Valley Trail. After about 1/4 mile I turned west on the Mill Creek Trail.
The South Valley Trail is very gradual and slowly wraps around the south half of Lory State Park’s large valley. I was surprised to see an equine jumping course as it’s not labeled on the trail map.
The Mill Creek Trail ascends quickly into the foothills, heading for Horsetooth Mountain Open Space where it continues for three more miles.
After travelling through the forest for a little while, the trail made its way down to a small stream. I at first thought that this was Mill Creek, but then the trail switchbacked up and back down to a bigger (but still small) stream. I realized that this was Mill Creek.
I stopped for a quick snack break next to the stream and then hiked upwards once again. There is a lot of up and down on the Mill Creek Trail. As I climbed higher, there were a few moments where I could see out of the forest and across to Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins beyond.
I soon reached an intersection with the Loggers Trail and turned off Mill Creek. This trail looked like it could have been an old logging road. I wondered how much logging took place in this area…apparently enough to name trails after it!
Once I turned on the Sawmill Trail and saw the old shack, I hoped I’d see a sawmill too, but no such luck. The Sawmill Trail descends out of the foothills and heads back into the valley, connecting with the South Valley Trail at its most southern point. I was thankful to finally be done with the uphill!
Once back in the valley, I could see the trailhead in the distance…up on a hill. Wait, I thought the valley was flat!?
Even though I had to ascend a bit to get back to the car, it was very gradual and there were plenty of flowers to keep me busy.
As I neared the parking lot, people were swarming. Just in time for me to leave!