Last summer over 50 miles of trails were opened to the public in the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space. Trail maps and info can be found here. With quite a bit of snow in the mountains now and hearing of Alex and others making the trip out here last weekend, I decided it was finally time to check some of these trails out. I wasn't disappointed. While a lot smoother track and a bit milder climbing than I am used to, it was nice to actually rack up some big miles at a pretty steady pace. I wish I had my GPS to see what the total climbing was because I'm sure it added up, but the trail maps show the route that I ran today as 26 miles. I'm guessing around 2500 feet of climbing and my legs were definitely feeling it near the end. I'm sure these trails can get quite hot in the summer as there is no cover, and this is good rattlesnake country. All the more reason to run it this late in the year, although I still came upon one rattler today (in November?). It's unfortunate that these trails are closed from December through February. My route for today took me in a lolipop pattern starting and ending at the Cheyenne Rim Trailhead at the south parking lot just past the Soapstone entrance station. I ran the entire length of Cheyenne Rim Trail (across the Wyoming border), then back down Ruby Wash, around Bent Rock, past Red Mountain Trailhead, up Sinking Sun and Big Hole Wash, where I reconnected to Cheyenne Rim and ran back to the trailhead. Really just the western part of Soapstone and most of Red Mountain. Lots of interesting geology and plenty of wildlife, but hardly any people today. Just 2 hikers who took off from the Red Mountain trailhead. I don't know if I will get back out here this year as I still prefer the forests and the mountains, but this is a great system of trails that are pretty convenient to get to from Fort Collins.
Spectacular views from the high ridge just east of Red Mountain Open Space