Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Reopens September 18
Thanks to support from the Fort Collins community and the Pulliam Charitable Trust, the popular Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, will reopen on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at dawn. All trails will be open and visitors must stay on trail, no dogs are allowed. High visitation is expected so visitors are encouraged to check parking availability on the webcam at fcgov.com/naturalareas/status.
On October 17, 2020, the Cameron Peak Fire burned 80% of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. The wildfire burned grassland, shrub, and forest habitat, while damaging infrastructure such as bridges, trails, and small portions of historic buildings. Bobcat Ridge has been closed since the fire.
Since the Cameron Peak Fire, the Natural Areas Department and community volunteers have worked hard to restore and repair Bobcat Ridge. Burned trees adjacent to trails were removed, bridges and boardwalks were reconstructed, Valley Loop trails were reconstructed after being washed out by several flash floods, and all trails underwent routine maintenance. Several visitor amenities were improved including the addition of parking spots, a new vehicle exit road before the horse trailer parking area, and a new equestrian ramp near the historic cabin.
To aid with the recovery process, Bobcat Ridge Natural Area will be an on-trail only natural area. This will both keep visitors safe and allow vegetation a chance to recover.
Ecological restoration has begun and will continue over the next several years. The Natural Areas Department is monitoring and managing the burned area by restoring native grassland, removing invasive plants, and reseeding with native species to improve habitat for native wildlife and pollinators.
The Cameron Peak Fire also burned over a legacy dump site. The dump (located in an area closed to the public) will be cleaned up as required by a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment compliance advisory. Full mechanical removal of the undocumented dump site will take about six weeks and restoration of the area will follow.
The Natural Areas Department extends special thanks to the Pulliam Charitable Trust for providing grant funding and to the community for their support of natural areas!
Bobcat Ridge Cameron Peak Fire Information
Bobcat Ridge was severely burned in the Cameron Peak Fire in October 2020. To learn more about the fire and the restoration that continues to take place click the link.
Discover Bobcat Ridge Natural Area! Youll 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.
Note: This is one of the few Fort Collins natural areas on which dogs are not allowed.
Trails include the Valley Loop (4 mile loop), Ginny Trail (5.4 miles, climbs 1,500 feet, open for hiking and mountain biking, closed to horses), D.R. Trail (3.4 miles long, climbs 1,100 feet, open to equestrians and hikers, closed to cyclists), Powerline Road (1.5 miles long, climbs steeply with loose rocks so not recommended for horses, uphill only for cyclists), Eden Valley Spur (an out and back route, 1.3 miles along the valley bottom), trail map. E-bikes are not permitted on soft/natural surface trails. ADA mobility devices are allowed. Trail conditions and closures are posted here.
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Parking Lot Webcam#
Bobcat Ridge's address is 10184 West County Road 32C, Loveland. From Fort Collins, take Harmony Road west, it turns into CR 38 E. Follow CR 38 E to Masonville. Go left (south) at the Masonville Mercantile onto CR 27. Follow CR 27 about 1 mile to CR 32 C, head west about 1 mile to the Bobcat Ridge parking lot.
From Loveland, go west on Highway 34 about 4.5 miles west of Wilson Avenue. Turn north on CR 27 by Big Thompson Elementary and drive 4.5 miles. Turn left on CR 32C and go 1 mile west to the Bobcat Ridge parking lot.
Note: The parking lot often fills to capacity on weekends and holidays. If the lot is full, please come back another time (no parking on the road). Horse trailer parking is limited to 8 spots. Check the camera below before you go!
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Fire Restoration#
In October 2020, nearly 80% of Bobcat Ridge was burned in the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire in Colorado history. Explore below to learn more about the fire and restoration efforts happening.
Cameron Peak Fire at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area in 2020
Cameron Peak Fire- cliffs west of the parking lot
Cameron Peak Fire- Mahoney Park boardwalk
Cameron Peak Fire- Bobcat Ridge valley
Cameron Peak Fire- Bobcat Ridge valley looking north
Pre-Cameron Peak Fire: Valley Loop hikers
Pre-Cameron Peak Fire: Child using mounted binoculars at Bobcat Ridge
Pre-Cameron Peak Fire: Family hikes at Bobcat Ridge
Bear tracks at Bobcat Ridge
Pre-Cameron Peak Fire: Horseback Riders by Crystal Strouse
Pre-Cameron Peak Fire: CSU Pulliam Scholar teaches at Bobcat Ridge
In 2020, we experienced two of the worst wildfires in Colorado history and both of Fort Collins Utilities' watersheds were impacted. Due to the severity of the burn areas, the impacts are expected to be long-term. Fort Collins Utilities is prepared and is actively monitoring water quality.
- Cameron Peak Fire burns nearly 80% of Bobcat Ridge
The wildfire burned grassland, shrub, and forest habitat while damaging infrastructure such as bridges, trails, and small portions of historic buildings such as the wishing well. Homes adjacent to the area and the Bobcat Ridge residence were saved.
- Bobcat Ridge closes for public safety and recovery of the natural area
- Resprouting of shrubs observed throughout the area
Learn more about restoration plans in the spring update by watching this video.
- Trail and infrastructure repair begins
Bridges, trails, and other infrastructure begin to be rebuilt. Burned trees adjacent to trails are removed.
- Flash flooding causes further damage to trails
- Smooth brome and cheatgrass is treated
- Overgrown vegetation is removed from trails
- Bobcat reopens to public
- Seeding of 200 acres with native seed begins
- Monitor recovery of trees and shrubs
- Restore the remaining 400 acres of the valley
As you may know, Bobcat Ridge Natural Area was burned in the Cameron Peak fire on October 17th. I want to let you all know what happened that day and offer some words of hope for the future of this treasured natural area.
Luckily, thankfully, everyone is safe and no homes in the immediate area were lost. Thank you for the community outpouring of support including the offers of volunteer time and encouraging words. We respectfully ask the community to be patient as it takes time to fully understand the fire impacts and make plans for how to move forward. In the meantime, Bobcat Ridge will remain closed until further notice.
Natural Areas will keep you updated through the long process of rebuilding and restoring Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. Here is Natural Areas staff’s initial assessment.
- The “wishing well” at the historic cabin (north end of Valley Loop Trail) was lost, but the cabin only had minor roof damage. At the parking lot, the handicap horse ramp was burnt and there was damage to the surrounding single rail fence.
- All homes adjacent to Bobcat Ridge on the east side were saved due to firefighters’ bravery.
- The Bobcat residence and garage were spared as were all the historic ranchstead buildings.
- The footprint of the fire is estimated to be at least 75% of the natural area.
- Nearly all the grasses and forbs burned; as most of this grass was non-native, this presents an excellent opportunity for restoration.
- Most of the mountain mahogany and rabbitbrush shrubs burned, yet as fire-adapted species they are expected to vigorously resprout in all but the most intensely burned areas.
- Pockets of smaller ponderosa pine were severely affected, but we believe a large majority of taller pines may survive.
- The most significant impact of the burn is on the north and west side of the site that burned first during extreme winds.
- The vegetation in drainages experienced intensely hot fire and thus were significantly impacted.
- Approximately 1/2 mile of fire break was created by a bulldozer beginning at the stone circles (Powerline Trail) going north along the base of the slope to the north boundary. This impact will be repaired and restored.
- At least one of the wildlife cameras and the boardwalk at Mahoney Park were damaged.
- A complete trail assessment is yet to be completed.
I thought you might enjoy these words from Rick Bachand, Ranger Manager:
This is a fire that will go down in the history of the Natural Areas Department. While it is heartbreaking to see the site so different than what we cherished for so many years, I am reassured that Mother Nature will find a way to heal the landscape through the next decade. I am equally confident that our talented staff will continue the hard work of restoring the site for wildlife and plants. There will be the public enjoyment that we had before.
To me this is a bittersweet moment. Alongside other devoted fans of Bobcat Ridge, I am grieving the “loss” of a very special place. However, it isn’t really lost. Natural areas and ecosystems are not static. Change in nature is always occurring, sometimes it is on a timescale we can’t see. Bobcat Ridge’s wildlife and habitat will re-green, regrow, and restore and Bobcat Ridge will renew our human spirits once again.
Our grief can be seen as evidence of the deep connection and meaning that natural places provide in our lives. Please share your memories, photos, and wishes for Bobcat Ridge on the Natural Areas facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FCNaturalAreas/
Northern Colorado is strong and resilient. We are a great community. I am confident that while Bobcat Ridge has changed forever, that with time, its natural elements will recover. We will stay in touch as we have news to share. I look forward to seeing you on the trails when they can be reopened.
Interim Natural Areas Director and Public Engagement Manager
Bobcat Ridge is closed for your safety and for the recovery of the natural area.
It is expected to reopen in the summer of 2021 and it may reopen in phases.
Initial assessments show that prior to reopening Bobcat Ridge to visitors, fallen and burnt trees need to be cleared from trails, trails and other infrastructure must be repaired and several trail bridges need to be replaced. The recovery is being planned and implemented in coordination with the larger Cameron Peak Fire recovery efforts. Ecological restoration will begin in the spring, however visitors should know that the restoration process takes time.
The timeline for reopening accounts for other priority trail projects, winter weather, coordination with the US Forest Service, COVID-19 protocols, the Natural Areas Department’s seasonal workforce, and other factors.
The Natural Areas Department will keep you updated through the long process of rebuilding and restoring Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.
The Cameron Peak Fire in October 2020 burned nearly 80% of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. The fire burned grasses, trees and shrubs, as well as visitor use infrastructure and amenities. Flash flooding in May and June 2021 caused further damage to trails.
Resprouting of shrubs has been observed throughout the area and some trees appear to be greening up as well. Pre-fire, the valley was primarily populated by the introduced grass- smooth brome- which outcompetes native species. Staff completed a chemical treatment of around 200 acres this spring. The valley is scheduled to be seeded with a mix of prairie grasses and flowers in the fall of 2021. The restoration will benefit native bees, butterflies, grassland birds, and a variety of other wildlife. Conservation and protection of these species is a crucial part of the Natural Areas Department's mission.
Special thanks to the Pulliam Charitable Trust for providing grant funding to rebuild infrastructure and restore the valley to native grasslands.
Crews are working to repair damage from both fire and flooding. Repair work is focused on trails and trail infrastructure. Reopening is on track for late summer 2021.
- Summer 2021: Treatment of smooth brome, ~ 200 acres
- July-August 2021: Trail and infrastructure repair continues, complete safety measures to secure undocumented dump (not accessible to the public even when the site is open)
- Late summer 2021: Reopen to the public
- Fall 2021: Seed 200 acres
- 2022 –2023: Restore the remaining 400 acres of the valley
- 2021-2023: Monitor recovery of trees and shrubs
- Know before you go safety and recreation information.
- Bobcat Ridge site brochure includes a trail map.
- Video overview of Bobcat Ridge posted on YouTube.
- Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Ranger Office 970-461-2700
- Special people have volunteered to take an active role in the stewardship of natural areas by doing monthly litter pick-ups. You can join the fun and adopt a natural area, too!
- Working the Land: Creating a Life a booklet about Bobcat Ridge's history.
- Pieces of the Past: The Story of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area is a historical record by Carol Tunner.
- Bird Checklist- Courtesy of Fort Collins Audubon Society
- Bobcat Ridge wildlife photos- wildlife "selfies" from the motion-activated cameras.
- Article about Communities, Cameras and Conservation by a Rocky Mountain High School student
- Plant List for Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. Volunteers were critical in making the list possible, thank you!