Bobcat Ridge: Valley Trails | Colorado | 04/25/20

It’s been too long since I’ve blogged. I’ve been adventuring and hiking constantly, but I haven’t had much extra time to share my trips. Now that work is slowing down a bit (I think…) I’m hoping to be able to get caught up and start posting in real time again! (But I do post regularly on my Instagram if you want to see what I’ve been up to more recently! You can find me on Instagram @colorado_chelsea. But beware, it’s mostly dog pictures!)


Bobcat Ridge: Valley Trails | Fort Collins Natural Areas

Masonville, CO | 04/25/20| 8.21 miles | 653′ gain


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Bobcat Ridge is a super cute natural area less than an hour away from home. I’d hiked here before, but didn’t even come close to finishing all the trails. And I liked it enough that I wanted to come back!

Since I was planning on a pretty tough hike with a friend the following day, I wanted something a little easier. I thought the valley trails (including the Valley Loop and Eden Valley Spur) would add up to around 7 miles, which would be perfect! (I was a little off, but that’s okay!)

I don’t know how I didn’t notice this on my first visit, but there is a short interpretive trail right off the parking lot that leads to (and into) a number of historic buildings. It’s not marked at all (and isn’t obvious on the trail map) so it doesn’t seem as if many people even know about it. Regardless, I was the only one on this trail while dozens of others were heading the opposite direction.

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Chicken house circa 1888 (left) and pioneer barn circa late 1800s (right)

This fertile valley was home to several farming and ranching families from the 1880s to the 1950s. Many buildings are still standing and most of them are unlocked for exploration. The walls are covered with tools and artifacts from the time period.

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A handful of different tools (most labeled) in the barn.

In addition to the buildings pictured above; there is a poultry building, equipment shed, calving shed, and hay shed, all built in the 1940s-1950s. This is essentially an outdoor museum!

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After exploring the historic buildings, I was finally ready to get hiking. I turned north on the Valley Loop Trail and walked about 1.5 miles before reaching another historic cabin.

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Go right (north) to start the Valley Loop

The valley is very lush and green but the hills above are bare from the 2000 Bobcat Gulch Wildfire. This fire was caused by an abandoned campfire (that wasn’t put out properly) and burned 10,600 acres.

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The lush valley. It’s no wonder farmers and ranchers settled here!
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A small stream in the valley.

Since the trail was flat, I quickly reached the historic cabin. Normally the inside is open but it was closed today due to coronavirus. This cabin was built in 1917.

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Farm equipment near the cabin

The Valley Loop turns west here and heads up into the foothills for 3/4 of a mile before turning back south.

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Heading west towards the foothills.
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Nuttall’s Violet (Viola nuttalii)
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Wavyleaf Dandelion (Nothocalais cuspidata)
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Redstem Stork’s Bill (Erodium cicutarium) – not native

For much of the western half of the loop, I was just inside the forest. I often had views down into the valley, and I even saw some wildlife!

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Valley views

I took a quick side trip down the Powerline Trail to visit (and photograph) the tipi circle. These circles of stones are believed to have been used to anchor the edges of a tipi. This one in particular is estimated to be 130-300 years old.

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Tipi circle, you can JUST see a circle of stones.
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They’re hard to see, but there are a few mule deer under the trees.
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Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) with views of the valley, the hogback, and distant Milner Mountain (6,881′).
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Cool rock formations near the end of the Valley Loop.

As I neared the end of the Valley Loop, I turned off on the Eden Valley Spur. This trail doesn’t really “go” anywhere (in fact it dead ends at private property), so I saw very few people.

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Eden Valley Spur
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Easter Daisy (Townsendia hookeri)
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Another old structure across the valley, this one dilapidated.
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A cute little cascade along the Eden Valley Spur.
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Blue Mustard (Chorispora tenella) – not native
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The end of the Eden Valley Spur.

Once I reached the end of the trail, I retraced my steps back to the Valley Loop. It’d been sprinkling on and off and it looked like it wanted to start raining harder, so I was motivated to reach the car. A really fun (and easy) route around Bobcat Ridge with tons of history. Now I just have one trail left here and I can’t wait to go back to check it out!

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Chelsea


 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Bobcat Ridge: Valley Trails | Colorado | 04/25/20

  1. Jules Marie

    Great story, love the historic photos and your descriptions. I often follow these interpretive trail signs or anything that says historic cabin while most others take the main trails. Thanks for sharing this trail.

    Like

      1. Cancelled my Yosemite trip so coming to Colorado endorses of July for sure!!!!! Yay!! If my Greece trip gets canceled I’ll be coming out in September to so I may get a lot of Colorado hiking done! And see my son too!!!!

        Like

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