Weekend Backpacker: Denver
Combined, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests make up 1.3 million acres of public land in the Rocky Mountains. This expansive area extends from the Wyoming border in the north to Mount Evans in the south. The Roosevelt National Forest is confined to the eastern side of the Continental Divide, and its terrain varies from rolling hills to snow-covered peaks more than 14,000 feet high.
Included in the boundaries of the Roosevelt National Forest is the Pawnee National Grassland. Here more than 193,000 acres of intriguing grasslands can be found about 30 miles east of Fort Collins.
Recommended hike: Roaring Creek Trail #952. This is a moderate climb of five miles with an elevation gain of 2,130 feet, making it suitable for either a day hike or an overnight trip. Beginning in Poudre Canyon, the trail starts at 7,750 feet and follows Roaring Creek, which forms in the Nunn Creek Basin area of the Roosevelt National Forest.
You can often see bighorn sheep lingering near the trail. As you head north, cross the bridge over the north branch of Roaring Creek. Here the trail climbs steeply, making several switchbacks through sagebrush, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir forest before leveling off. Next you will meander along the willow-topped creek and lodgepole pine forests until you hit the South Bald Mountain jeep road. Here you can turn around or camp.
Hikers have reported seeing moose along the upper portion of the trail, and the creek is inhabited by native greenback cutthroat trout. This is a popular hike: Don't expect to be alone on the trail.
Getting there: From Fort Collins take Highway 287 10 miles north. Then travel west about 40 miles up the Poudre Canyon on Highway 14. The parking lot is on the right side of the road, 1.5 miles past the fish hatchery. The trail heads north out of the parking lot.
Camping: Camping is allowed along the trail.
Permits: None required.
Maps: Trails Illustrated Poudre River/Cameron Pass (#112).
Roosevelt National Forest
1311 S. College Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication