Thanks, in part, to grants provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), two new trails will soon link Loveland and Fort Collins. Along with funds from Loveland, Fort Collins, and Larimer County, these paved trails will be the first to connect Loveland and Fort Collins’ trail systems. As stated, there currently are no trails that connect the two cities, but it is something that has been highly desired by residents of both cities looking to hike or bike in between them. Construction on both trails is set in 2016 with the grand openings planned for 2017.
The Colorado Front Range Trail will run east of Highway 287, beginning where the Loveland Recreation Trail meets with Boyd Lake State Park. It will run north from there, falling between Lemay Avenue and Timberline Road, and finally connecting to Fossil Creek Trail in Fort Collins. The Colorado Front Range Trail will be about 2.2 miles long.
The Long View Corridor Trail will be the longer of the two trails at 4.4 miles long, running along the east side of North Taft Avenue in Loveland and South Shields Street in Fort Collins. The Long View Corridor Trail will begin in Loveland at the southwest corner of 57th Street and Taft Avenue tying into the Loveland Recreation Trail at the city’s new Sunset Vista Natural Area. From there, the trail will run north, passing through one Loveland natural area, one Larimer County open space, and three Fort Collins natural areas. The north end of the trail will end at Fort Collins’ Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area and the Fossil Creek Trail.
According to Loveland’s Senior Park Planner, Janet Meisel-Burns, “The acquisition of Sunset Vista Natural Area was the catalyst of securing grant funds to build the Long View Corridor Trail.” Fort Collins and Larimer County had already obtained most of the land needed for the trail, but Loveland’s gain of Sunset Vista is what will allow for the trail to be completed by providing a way to connect the two existing trails. The project also includes plans that will improve safe crossing at the intersection of 57th Street and Taft Avenue in Loveland.
The new trails, consisting of both paved and unpaved sections, will offer beautiful views of the foothills and the mountains along with providing access to the five natural areas and open space. Both bicyclist and pedestrian safety have been strongly considered in order to provide the safest recreational connection between Loveland and Fort Collins. In addition to the overall goal of connecting trail networks is the sincere hope that these new trails will provide extra encouragement for families to get outdoors and become more active.
This project began in 2002 when both Loveland and Fort Collins began planning for a trail system as part of an initiative for a multi-purpose trail system that would eventually span from Wyoming to New Mexico with the ultimate goal of connecting 15 major cities through 14 counties along the Front Range. This is just one more thing to love about living in Colorado.