Added by Erin Coppersmith
This is an easy, family-friendly run or hike just 20 minutes from Fort Collins. Parking is free (I'm a student so free is my favorite word), and it takes about an hour to run, 2.5 hours to hike.
Hewlett Gulch Trailhead is located about 20 minutes from Fort Collins and offers easy hiking in the Poudre Canyon.
From Fort Collins, take 287 to Ted's Place. Take a left onto CO 14 and follow 14 through the canyon just past Poudre Park where you see the trailhead sign. Turn left onto the road that leads to the parking lot. This trail is fairly popular, but is far enough into the canyon that it is not usually crowded and there are plenty of parking spots.
You start off down the hill where you come to the first of many stream crossings. There are a number of crossings along this trail. Most crossings are clear in fall, but take some maneuvering in spring and summer, especially early in the season. Some crossings can be avoided using side trails but are never too tough that this is absolutely necessary.
After about 3 miles, you get to a fork where the loop really starts. Taking the left fork will start you on a series of switchbacks that climb up to the highest point on the route. The right fork will continue through the forest, cross the stream a few more times, and bring you to a meadow that is peppered with flowers in the summer. I usually choose to take the right path because I like to gradually climb rather than run uphill right away.
Depending on the time of year you go, you may run into a snake or two, but I have never had a problem with wildlife.
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