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Beautiful Bobcat Ridge Natural Area

Before the summer heat made the open space too hot, Alan and I decided to head to nearby Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. We had scoped this out one Saturday morning, but the parking lot was packed. Not only that, but it isn’t dog friendly, and we had the dogs with us. We believe it is a no-dog area because of the abundant wildlife that winters there.

The description on the Fort Collins website of this beautiful area gives you a good understanding of what this open space offers:

Discover Bobcat Ridge Natural Area! You’ll find a grassy valley, foothills, ponderosa pines, stunning red rock cliffs and more. Bobcat Ridge is home to elk, wild turkey, mountain lions and other wildlife. Several historic homestead sites dot the landscape. 

Following the same link as above, you can view a webcam! I wonder how often wildlife is visible on that webcam? That page also offers excellent directions to the trailhead. This link takes you to a story about the impact of the Cameron Peak Fire on Bobcat Ridge, as well as plans for expansion.

During a weekday in May, before tourism really ramps up here, it was quiet. The most activity we encountered was a busload of local school children, happy to spend a day outdoors. They were quite enamored with our horses.

The parking area for trailers is accessible and large.

We covered 9.27 miles in a little over 3 hours on a sunny, high-50’s day. The elevation gain was about 1550 feet. This will be a “do as I say” not “do as I do” post because we came down on a trail that we were not supposed to be on. It was because of our confusion on this ride that I learned about COTREX… a better option for riding in Colorado than AllTrails, apparently.

AllTrails states that the Ginny and Powerline Trail Loop is horse-friendly. It is listed as an 8.5 mile, moderate loop. However, when we arrived at the point where the Ginny Trail branched off from the Powerline Trail, a sign said “No horses”. We didn’t see the DR Trail, which apparently was how horses were supposed to return. At least, there was no sign identifying the DR trail, and I was limited in my ability at that point to come up with a Plan B. So… we headed down the Ginny Trail.

Bobcat Ridge

For the most part, it is horse friendly if you are accustomed to narrow, rocky trails. There was only one small section where I chose to dismount. I said to Alan, “Let me see what I see, and then I will tell you if you need to dismount.” I took about two steps and said, “Get off!” We led the horses down a large boulder. I’m talking a 3-4 horse length boulder…

I don’t worry about the horses’ ability to navigate the boulders, although their shoes can make traction difficult. We have our blacksmith use borium nails to aid in providing traction. However, they are accustomed to walking beside us, and even though they adapt to walking behind, they can slip and struggle with momentum just as we do. I don’t want to get run over by a horse. Nevertheless, we made it down just fine.

Heading up the Powerline Trail

The Powerline portion of the trail is largely as depicted in the previous photo. The trail is dirt and wide… not rocky like the Ginny Trail. Bobcat RIdge has several different types of terrain. When we ride it again, I’ll report back on the DR Trail!

We encountered a handful of deer, and watched a hawk fly up into a tree with a snake in its mouth. It dropped the snake, though! The scenery is definitely different than riding in the Rockies up in Estes, but beautiful nevertheless. As I mentioned previously, this is a good place to ride when the temps are cooler, as you will be in the sun for much of the time.

We will do this ride again, as the area is beautiful and, for the most part, it is a very easy ride. Here’s my guy proudly standing by the “You shouldn’t be on this trail!” sign! (He was on Kadeen again, as we hadn’t ridden for a while and I chose to ride the recalcitrant mare…)

Be sure and check out the old buildings next to the parking lot. There is a sign that tells a little bit about the Hyatt and Spence families who farmed the area from the late 1800s until the mid 1950s. The calving barn built in the 1940s by Hunter Spence is still in amazingly good shape. Note the sign in the outside barn area that warns about being under the old roof if the winds are blowing or the snow is heavy!

I need your feedback, PLEASE!

I would very, very much appreciate it if you would provide me some feedback about something that really puzzles me. Recently, I attended an excellent clinic educating horse owners about how to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster. The presenters included animal control officers, fairgrounds managers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel. They pleaded with horse owners to have a plan for emergency evacuation. Furthermore, they emphasized that depending on other people to evacuate your horses was not part of a good plan.

I compiled the information and spent considerable time massaging it into what I considered to be a very informative article. Honestly, I expected it to be widely read and shared, because in my mind, being ready for the unexpected is the best way to navigate life’s challenges.

It did not gain much footing. I truly don’t grasp why people choose not to be prepared. Am I “not normal”? (Actually, “normal” is a setting on the dryer…) However, I do know that firefighters beseech people to do fire mitigation around their properties… but they don’t. Why? I know that EMTs and ER physicians preach to the equestrian community that is engaged in a very risky pasttime that protective gear for your head, spine, and thorax might save your life, but few people listen. Why?

I have created a very simple, very quick survey. Would you please help me to understand what motivates you to do or not do something? There are no right or wrong answers… I just want to know what goes through your mind. You can select multiple answers. You can skip questions. You don’t have to provide your name and/or email and I won’t be collecting emails or personal data.

Please answer this short survey

I really appreciate and value your input. Check back next week for another trail blog about Devil’s Backbone Open Space, followed by a wonderful ride in Rocky Mountain National Park with a not-so-wonderful incident. While you are reading about Devil’s Backbone, I will be rafting down the Grand Canyon! I will for sure write that up and give you a view of the canyon not seen on horseback!

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