Hike the Mahogany Loop Trail at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
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Added by Grant Whitty
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is located just north of Fort Collins, Colorado and is home to American bison, pronghorn, deer, wildflowers and native grasses.
To get to Soapstone Prairie from Fort Collins, take Highway 287 north out of town, then turn right onto Highway 1. Continue on Highway 1 until it meets with County Road 15. Take County Road 15 north all the way to Rawhide Flats Road, which leads directly into Soapstone Prairie.
As you begin to approach the Prairie, you will enter through the first set of gates. This is the southernmost part of the Natural Area, it is also home to a herd of North American Bison. The bison were reintroduced into the area in 2015 as a project put on by Colorado State University, City of Fort Collins Natural Resources Department, Larimer County Natural Resources Department and many others. Take some time either before or after your hike to enjoy these amazing creatures that play a large roll in the history of this region.
Continue north on Rawhide Flats Road, once you pass the stone entrance sign, the entrance station will be right around the corner. Pass through the entrance and continue straight through the roundabout. Follow this road for a few miles until it ends at the North Lot Trailhead.
Once you get to the North Lot, park the car, double check all of your gear, lace up your hiking boots, hit the bathroom if you need, and hit the trail. There are several trailheads at the north lot. Make sure you take the Mahogany Trailhead, which is on the northeastern part of the parking lot. There will be clear signage.
The trail will wind up the side of the hill for about two miles, after that length of trail, the trail will fork. This is where the actual loop part of the trail begins. Regardless of which way you choose, keep an eye out for horses and mountain bikers, as this is a shared trail.
I started on the right (northern) part of the loop. You will begin to climb to the small ridge above. Once you get to the top of the ridge take a moment to look over the prairie. The land and sky stretch for miles. This is a great place to catch the sunset if you can.
The loop will then begin to go along the back (north) side of the small ridge and near a washout. After a mile or so the trail will begin to work it's way back to to the towards beginning of the loop.
The trail will zigzag south, up and over some small ridges. Soon the trail will climb up onto the main ridge in the small hill area. For a few miles you will follow the ridge east, with expansive views to your south. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, they're pretty common in this part of the prairie.
Soon you will come down from the ridge and meet up with where you started the loop. Get back onto the two mile part of the trail that brought you to the loop and take it back to the parking lot.
Just a few things to keep in mind:
- If you didn't stop to see the bison on the way there, do so on your way back!
- There are many Native American artifacts in this region, it is illegal to take any artifacts. If you see any, please leave them where they are.
- Dogs are not allowed at this park.
- A trail guide can be found here.
- The park is open dawn to dusk, March through November.
- Hiking Boots
- Sun/Rain Protection
- Sack Lunch
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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