City Escape: Fort Collins, Colorado

Text: Steven Henry • Photography: Steven Henry

This 105-mile section of CO-14 has become an all-time favorite over the years. Leaving Ft. Collins, the road winds alongside the Cache la Poudre River and climbs steadily into Roosevelt National Forest until it reaches Cameron Pass (10,200 ft). From there it descends steeply before flattening out on the high plains for a short ride into Walden. Upper elevations remain cold year-round, so wear layers. And with no gas stations inside the national forest, it’s important to fill up before starting.

Length

Approximately 210 miles round-trip 

Meet-up Spot

Ever Open Cafe, 1422 N College Ave, Fort Collins, CO.

Lunch Stop 

Moose Creek Café offers hearty frontier-style meals, affordable prices, and a cozy atmosphere. Open seven days per week, but closes at 2 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. 508 Main Street, Walden, CO.

Scenery (5 out of 5) Spectacular vistas and varied surroundings are what set this ride apart. Look forward to views of snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and narrow rivers that cut through steep canyon ravines. 

Traffic (4 out of 5) Depending on the time of day it can be slow-moving as you leave Ft. Collins, but once outside the city the traffic is generally light.

Difficulty (3 out of 5) Manageable curves and an abundance natural beauty.The most difficult part of this ride is staying focused on the road instead of the surrounding scenery. 

Road conditions (3 out of 5) 

The road is in generally good condition with a lot of twists and turns, but following a hard rain you could find rocks and/or gravel on the road. It’s not uncommon to spot moose beside the road, so be cautious.

Points of Interest

1. Cameron Pass scenic overlook
At 10,200 ft, Cameron Pass is the highest elevation point on the ride and a must-stop area for photos. Pull-offs just below the pass offer fantastic views of the crags below.


2. Blue Lake Trail Head
Hike five miles (10-mile roundtrip) to Blue Lake if you’re feeling adventurous, or stroll a quarter of a mile down-trail to a footbridge with a nice views of Joe Wright Creek.


3. Joe Wright Reservoir
Opposite the trailhead for Blue Lake on CO-14, this stunning mountain lake is an ideal stopping point for a short break. Keep an eye out for moose and other wildlife. 


4. Poudre Falls
Limited signage makes this one easy to miss, but the dramatic, multi-tiered waterfall is worth keeping an eye out for. From the pull-off, it’s an easy 0.1-mile walk to reach the falls.


5. Old Town Fort Collins
With dozens of little shops and restaurants to explore, the historic Old Town area in downtown Fort Collins is a perfect spot to grab dinner or a drink and talk about the day’s ride. Often there is a live band performing at one of the outdoor pavilions.