Natural Areas Enews
New! On the Rocks Trail at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area
On the Rocks provides one mile of scenic hiking and black diamond (expert) level mountain biking trail several miles into Bobcat Ridge.

Natural Areas staff co-created the trail with volunteers from Northern Colorado Grassroots, Otterbox, and Overland Mountain Bike Association.

Steve Lacey of Northern Colorado Grassroots said, "It's been a long time coming but I think the On the Rocks trail will really showcase how volunteers and land agencies can work together to create a special trail that opens the possibilities of what trails can be, yet still adhere to the directives of our public spaces. The On the Rocks trail winds through some of the most unique landscape in Fort Collins which would not have been accessible if not for the On the Rocks trail."

Todd Juhasz of Fort Collins Natural Areas said, "On the Rocks illustrates a collaborative relationship between Natural Areas and mountain bikers who share similar values: dedication to conservation and providing unique recreational opportunities."

Mountain bikers and hikers are invited to enjoy the new On the Rocks trail, when Bobcat Ridge is open, daily from dawn to dusk. Bobcat Ridge is popular, the busiest times are weekends, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Avoid these times for a better chance at finding parking. If the parking lot is full, you must come back another time as there is no parking on the road.
Trail Conditions & Parking Lot Webcam

Coming Soon: Draft Foothills Natural Areas Management Plan

A draft of the management plan that applies to Coyote RidgePineridgeMaxwell and Reservoir Ridge natural areas and the Foothills Trail will be available for feedback, August 16-30 at

The Foothills Natural Areas Management Plan update describes various approaches to maintain and improve the rich plant and wildlife communities in the foothills while also managing for enjoyable, sustainable recreation access to these beautiful landscapes. The draft management plan will be in storymap format, and will include an executive summary, action plan, and supporting documents. 

Learn more about the Foothills Natural Areas Management Plan

E-bikes on Paved Trails
Between May, 2019 and April, 2020, the City of Fort Collins will allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on paved trails as part of a one-year pilot program. No e-bikes are allowed on soft surface natural areas trails.

Keep an eye out for e-bikes while you are out enjoying a paved trail and share your thoughts.Throughout the e-bike pilot program, the city is collecting feedback, experiences, and perspectives from the community.
Learn more and take the survey

Seeking Volunteers with Professional Skills
Are you interested in giving your professional-level expertise to help natural areas? Skills Based Volunteers will help complete these projects in September-December:
  • Create a Cultural Heritage of the Natural Areas App
  • Develop a Dog Curriculum 
  • Produce an Ecology 101 E-Learning Course
  • Research History of Native Americans in Larimer County
  • Create a Humans of Natural Areas Social Media Series
  • Audit the Natural Areas Website
  • Analyze Ranger Data
A cohort of Skills Based Volunteers will meet monthly (5-6:30 p.m., September 3, October 1, November 5, December 3) to learn more about the Natural Areas Department and receive support. Each volunteer is assigned a main staff contact who oversees the technical side of the project. 
Learn more and apply to help

Hike to the A at Maxwell Natural Area
Over 800 new Colorado State University students will be introduced to Fort Collins' outdoors and Leave No Trace ethics at the annual Hike to the A at Maxwell Natural Area, on Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Rangers and Master Naturalist volunteers will be on hand sharing stewardship tips and to monitor the activity.
Maxwell will remain open but visitors may want to avoid the area while Hike to the A is in progress.

Volunteer of the Month: Brandon Smith
Also known as Brandof the Blue, our volunteer of the month said, "I love volunteering because it gives me an excuse to escape my desk and get my boots dirty. It is so much fun to show up at a project site, meet some amazing people from the community and work alongside them to restore/maintain areas that have been destroyed due to overuse, erosion or or natural disasters. It's also exiting to have the opportunity to go back to the site a few years later and see the results of all of the hard work and be able to state that I had a hand in bringing that area back to life." Thanks so much, Brandon!

Free Upcoming Activities

Smithsonian at Lindenmeier, Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at north parking lot. Travel back in time to learn how Paleoindians survived the high plains and how Smithsonian Institution archaeologists uncovered their story in the 1930s. 0.25 miles; easy. Please bring sun and wind protection, water, and closed-toe shoes. Free, registration required at

Nature Playdate, Thursday, August 15, 10 a.m. -12 noon, Gateway Natural Area, free parking is provided for program participants, meet near the picnic shelters. Come explore nature in a safe and accessible way with your little ones (age 3-7). Gateway Natural Area has a large grass area with picnic shelters and a nature playground, yet is surrounded by mountains and right next to the Cache la Poudre River. This is a great opportunity to ease into the outdoors! We will have sticks, water, and buckets for kids to play with and explore. Bring water, sun protection, clothes that can get wet and dirty, and a picnic lunch if you'd like for afterwards! Free, registration required at

Natural History of the Foothills, Friday, August 23, 9-11 a.m., Pineridge Natural Area, meet at the west parking lot above Dixon Reservoir. Discover fascinating ecological links in this dynamic life zone. Learn about the ecological connections between the prairie, shrublands and ponderosa pine forests. Please bring water, lunch, sun protection, and closed-toe shoes. 1 mile; easy. Free, registration required at

Walk the Gangplank, Saturday, August 25, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet in north parking lot. Explore with experts in geology and ecology to uncover the secrets of the oldest rocks in Fort Collins and how the landscape was shaped by natural forces to form the ecological landscape of today. Bring sun protection, lunch, water, sturdy shoes, and rain gear. 5-6 miles; moderate-strenuous. Free, registration required at

Calendar of free activities

Natural Areas News is published on the first Tuesday of the month with occasional special editions. Newsletter comments are welcome. Please contact Zoe Shark, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Community Relations Manager, 970-221-6311 or 

To learn more about Natural Areas, visit our website.

City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department
PO Box 580, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road
Fort Collins, CO 80522