Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail

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This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
14.0 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
673 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The Horsetooth Rock vis Wathan Trail is a diverse hike through several types of terrains. Hike through grassy meadows, along rocky creeks and up under the coverage of ponderosa pines. This exciting adventure culminates at Horsetooth Rock, which overlooks the Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins.

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Route Description for Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail

Lace up those hiking boots and get ready to hike through the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. The Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail is a lengthy excursion that will undoubtedly get your blood pumping, but it won’t over exhaust you. With the perfect ratio of steep and scenic this hike is high reward, moderate effort. Note that there are several merging and intersecting routes along this excursion, so a Trail GPS isn’t a bad idea. Visitors are also required to purchase a day pass which are typically around $9USD and can be purchased at the kiosk on-site.

From the Soderberg Trailhead, track north up the Swan Johnson Trail. Hike up the path, and at the junction, veer left onto Towers Trail. Trek along the Towers Trail, through the meadowlands and notice the Horsetooth Rock towering above. Continue along this route until you encounter the junction with Herrington Trail. At this point, you will take a sharp left onto Herrington Trail. Soon you will encounter another intersection. Again, turn left, and you will be briefly diverted onto Spring Creek Trail before turning right onto Wathan Trail. You will take Wathan Trail over Spring Creek and up several switchbacks.

Ascend the increasingly rocky terrain to the Horsetooth Rock Trail. Veer right up the route, and you will ascend Horsetooth Mountain. Enjoy the panoramic vistas from atop the granite outcropping—notice Fort Collins and the Horsetooth Reservoir in the east. Explore the summit and the unique geological feature before commencing your descent. When you are ready, retrace your steps all the way back to the Soderberg Trailhead.

Getting to the Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail Trailhead

Located within the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, the Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail is accessed via the Soderberg Trailhead.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Yes, only at designated backcountry campsites. See rules and regulations.

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Horsetooth Rock via Wathan Trail Elevation Graph

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