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A must-do Colorado hike: Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins

<p>Horsetooth Rock hike in Fort Collins is a must-try for anyone in Colorado. </p>

If you live in certain places, there are some hikes you just have to do -- like Royal Arch in Boulder, Delicate Arch in Moab and Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins.

It's the thing you can see in the foothills just above Fort Collins that looks like a horse tooth. Yes, you can climb it without any technical gear, and it's only 15 minutes away -- a huge plus.

If you go to the Horsetooth Mountain Park parking lot at peak times, it looks like a mall during Christmas -- which is why I'd recommend not going at peak times (side note: I never got why people battled for close parking spots at trail heads. Like ... aren't you walking anyway? Will that extra 100 yards really kill you?).

<p>Horsetooth Rock hike in Fort Collins is a must-try for anyone in Colorado. </p>

But, parking aside, even when it's busy, a vast majority of people opt for Horsetooth Falls (which shares the trailhead) or wimp out before the summit, so the trail itself isn't hugely busy (though you definitely won't be alone).

The trail is five miles round trip with about 1,300 feet in elevation gain. It's a good fitness test hike if you're looking at doing some tougher stuff, but it's definitely doable for pretty much everyone.

You're rewarded with some sweet views of Horsetooth Reservoir, and the long-forested sections provide some necessary shade (even though you should definitely bring plenty of water).

Horsetooth Rock hike in Fort Collins is a must-try for anyone in Colorado.&nbsp;

Since this is Fort Collins, a lot of people hike this in Chacos (aka the official Fort Collins uniform). Be warned though: It's kind of rocky. I'd recommend wearing real shoes.

Unlike a lot of hikes, you can't actually see the top of Horsetooth Rock until around two miles in, when you crest a ridge.

From there, you can see the silhouettes of people on top, which will motivate you to conquer the steepest section, which is right before you get to the base of the rock itself.

Once you get to the rock, you can scramble up to the top, where you're rewarded with a 360-degree view of Fort Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir and Longs Peak. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Horsetooth Rock hike in Fort Collins is a must-try for anyone in Colorado.&nbsp;

A quick warning: I wouldn't recommend getting on the rock if it's wet. It gets slippery, and it's already quite the climb without the added difficulty of wet rock. When I descend, I tend to scoot down on my butt. I am not ashamed of this.

The hike lasts between two to three hours in my experience, and definitely gets you moving -- but lets you still have energy to enjoy other parts of Fort Collins.

Yes: I'm talking about a celebration beer at one of the city's breweries. You just hiked Horsetooth Rock: You earned it.

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