Horsetooth Rock Snowshoe

February 5th, 2012

We had gotten a bunch of snow on Thursday and Friday, so we decided to try some lower elevation snowshoeing near Horsetooth Reservoir.  We drove out on Harmony just west of town to see what we could find.  Eventually we got to Horsetooth Mountain Park which has a couple of trailheads and it looked like a good place to go for a hike.  It has a $6 daily use fee, or you can get a yearly pass for $65 which is what we opted for as the pass is good for all of the Larimer County parks.  We set off to see what we would find and started up the Horsetooth Rock/Horsetooth Falls trail.  The weather was beautiful, so after just a short while we were all shedding layers.  Very quickly we got up high enough to see some nice views of the reservoir.  It was quite scenic with all of the fresh snowfall.

Some nice views and a bench for a quick break

We took a quick break about 1/2 mile in and tried to figure out where we should turn around.  I really wanted to get to Horsetooth Rock, but wasn't sure Tyler would be up for that as it is almost 5 miles round trip with ~1700ft of elevation gain.  That's not easy for him when there isn't snow.  With snowshoes, I didn't know if he would be able to make it, but I decided to bribe him with a new CD player as his had just broken the day before.  If he made it to the top and back without complaining, I promised to replace his CD player in his room. 

We continued on up the trail making slow but steady progress.  The trail had many nice views along the way and we were all having a great time.  Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, Tyler decided that we were having our Super Bowl of Snowshoeing and he made a game of it.  Half time would be when we made it to the top. 

More scenery

We made good progress following a mostly well defined trail.  We did realize there are about 3-4 different trails up to Horsetooth Rock, which sometimes get very close together, so we switched back and forth between trails a couple of times.  The snow became much deeper and the trail more narrow as we neared the top.

Getting close to the top

The last 1/2 mile or so had a narrow route and was very steep, so we had to slow up quite a bit to make progress.  It was definitely the most exciting snowshoeing we've ever done.

Horsetooth Rock up close

We finally made it to the end of the trail.  The trail ends at the base of the rocky summit of Horsetooth Rock.  We took some photos and enjoyed the view for a couple of minutes.

View from the end of the trail

When we got up there, someone was just coming down off the rocky section.  We asked him how much we had to scramble to get to the top, and he said it was only a short way, so we took our snowshoes off and attempted to scramble to the top.  We got up just a little ways and realized it wasn't very smart for us to finish the scramble with Tyler and all of the snow on the rocks.  We'll have to come back in summer to try it again.

Too much snow to scramble to the top

We had a nice break at the top and ate some snacks.  Erin and I didn't eat too much because we realized we were way short on snacks and water as neither of us thought we'd be going for that long of a hike.  We headed back down and I put the camera away so I could concentrate on the steep section at the top.  Once we got past the first 1/2 mile, the rest of the trail was fast and easy and we made great time back to the trailhead.  We promised Tyler that he could go sledding when we got back and I thought there would be no way that he would want to do that after hiking almost 5 miles, but he wanted to give it a go.  He climbed up a hill with his sled, but couldn't slide down it because the snow was too deep.  He gave up quickly which we were happy about because we were starving and were looking to go find something for a late lunch.  It turned out to be by far our longest snowshoe we've done and also my favorite.  It was the perfect day to do it with absolutely no wind or clouds.

When we got back home, Erin and I were exhausted and very sore.  Tyler relaxed for about 5 minutes and then spent the next several hours running around and playing while watching the Super Bowl.  I think Erin and I were in bed by 9:30 and we barely were able do that.  We're super proud of Tyler and the fact that he was able to do the hole snowshoe by himself.

And yes, I got a new CD player for Tyler.

Back to home