The Devil’s Backbone, A NOCO Icon
Uneven ‘snaggy’ rocks peak at the top of a mystical area along Northern Colorado’s front range. We know the jagged formation as Devil’s Backbone. This Larimer County attraction makes up 2,198 acres where people take up hiking, biking, horseback riding and more. The stunning stones and the rangelands offer spectacular views at the well-known landmark where you can experience Colorado life. So, strap on those hiking boots and join us for this week’s adventure to the Devil’s Backbone.
Northern Colorado Provides a Natural Landscape for Hiking
If you’re living in NOCO you more than likely have heard of Devil’s Backbone. If you’re someone living out of the area, it is about 57-miles North of Denver, which is roughly an hour drive taking I25 freeway. Tourists from Estes Park can find the natural landscape heading West on the 34. With such easy access, it’s another reason for you to become familiar with this open space. It’s important to note the elevation on this hike is 5,040 with a 600 ft. ascend. Mostly, the terrain is flat and not difficult to tread, which is one reason many families make a day of hiking or exploring. You can also bring your four-legged friends as long as you use a leash. Whether hiking with another adventurer or taking the hike alone, you’ll be in awe of the surrounding land and will want to bring a camera.
Mid-Mornings are the Best Time to Visit this Open Space
A sweet place to take photos its before sunset or during early morning hours. By mid-morning the sun is blazing on the trails and almost impossible for some to bear. Many of our backpacking friends claim will pack plenty of water, wear sunscreen and get there early. The parking areas are almost always a good indicator the trail is full capacity when there’s no space to park. As a matter of fact, foresters and park rangers request you change plans if there isn’t any parking. However, if you are fortunate enough, you’ll be embracing history along with some beautiful scenery.
Photography is a Must at Devil’s Backbone
This mountain and open space is excellent for photography. You can catch some incredible sunsets toward the West with an array of colors that meet every shade on the spectrum. Not to mention with all the wild birds and different plants you’ll fill your photo journal in no time. There’s also flowering plants and popping grasshoppers who may not cooperate but they sure are cute when they do allow you to snap a photo. Its hard to imagine at one time dinosaurs were roaming around the slopes whether snow or sun.
Some of Colorado’s Best History Reigns Here
From the Louden Ditch to archeologists locating the remains of a prehistoric elephant, Devil’s Backbone provides a backdrop for some of Colorado’s most incredible stories. While the rock formations reminds you of a Triceratops, the grasslands below display a scrim of vegetation for the many animals who frequent the area. The naturally-beautiful surroundings, shed little reminder this was once the home of a plaster mill, owned by Alfred Wild.
Buckhorn Creek Flood and Other Stories
Regardless of the beautiful settings, there’s plenty of interesting stories behind this mountain top. Because of the gypsum in the rock at the mountains, Mr. Wild created his first plaster factory which he later sold to the United States. According to historians, the owners of the mill rebuilt after burning down in 1965. They officially closed production after the Buckhorn Creek flood, when there was not much left of the building. You can still find remnants of the foundation at the South End near the horse trail.
Horseback Riding Requires Skilled Animals and Riders
Horseback riding is yet another way to travel the land taking in more sights. Moreover, both you and your equestrian companion will need to be fit for this trailhead as it’s very difficult. While it’s not the most challenging in Colorado, there are steep grades and narrow footing where you must be cautious of loose rocks.
Wildlife at Devil’s Backbone Enjoys the Landscape
Wildlife at Devil’s Backbone varies where you will want to ensure you take some necessary precautions. While there is plenty of places for raptors to perch along the carved stones, the rocky grasslands are home for red-tail hawks, golden eagles. The pinyon-juniper along with the sagebrush make diverse habitats for a ton of other bird and butterfly species. However, the biggest complaint rattle snakes sunning themselves on harder surfaces and in the brush. Not as common but still present are the mountain lions, bighorn sheep and elk. These are rare occasions for such native creatures.
Natural Sculptures are the Highlight of this Wonderland
There are two trails along the hogback ideal for walking as they are mostly flat without steep inclines. You can view the Great Plains of the USA by taking a stroll along the flatlands and meadows. While the natural sculpture is a sight to see, there are multiple hoops for you to trek and see fresh angles. Morrison Loop is the shortest and wheelchair accessible. However, Laughing Horse Loop, Hunter Loop are more challenging, all of which lead to the top known as Rim Rock Open Space. Be aware they do not mark some of these areas where you could find yourself in a quandary. Just be sure to stay on the easier trails when you’re first getting familiar.
Mountain Bikers Love the Rocky Trails at Devil’s Backbone
Mountain Bikers love Devil’s Backbone for the rocky roadways. With fewer cliffs and ridges, the mountain appears to be more friendly than rough. The single back trails provide plenty of exercise, all while providing incredible terrain and breathtaking views. In the springtime, you’ll find over 120-different plant species if you dare park your bike and walk. But with the dirt and rocks make the ride an exciting cruise, where you may want to stay on wheels rather than foot. In some parts there’s a 3% grade, where the trail is difficult for less experienced riders. Nice thing is you always have options at this location.
Housing Near Devil’s Backbone in Loveland, Colorado
Housing near Devil’s Backbone is even more exhilarating. You can access the park via Fort Collins and other neighboring towns giving you a variety of options. Some residential areas along the mountain are Peep O Day Lane and Gamble Oak Drive. These roads provide large scale properties as well as single-family homes. South of Eisenhower Boulevard, you’ll have access to more track properties and bedroom communities. The area has been growing since the 1970s where you may find many of the properties along the natural areas are updated. People looking for more seclusion and the panoramic mountains reside closer along Hidden Valley Drive. There’s also some pleasant locations along Wilderland Way. No matter where you plan on shopping for houses, you will find something for everyone who wants to call NOCO “Home.” The mountains give us all a unique perspective and always inspiring for us, Coloradoans.
From difficult to easy, the route you take depends on your abilities or what you’re looking to achieve. Depending on the goals you set, remember to take in the rich beauty of the plains and countryside as well as the spooky tops. The territory here is unforgettable. At Devil’s Backbone you’ll find yourself in search of serenity while taking in this peaceful and iconic Colorado feature and one of NOCO’s best trails.
To find other articles on NOCO’s best be sure to check out the rest of our blog. If you’re seeking properties near Devil’s Backbone, I’m your guy to call.