Summer is one of the most beautiful times of year in Northern Colorado, and Loveland has much to offer those looking for an outdoor adventure or just some time in the fresh Rocky Mountain air.
Hiking and Biking
Being so close to the foothills definitely has it’s advantages, especially if you are a fan of hiking or mountain biking. One of the most recognizable and popular trails in Loveland is Devil’s Backbone Open Space. The area is made up of 12 miles of trail for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Coyote Ridge Natural Area, located between Loveland and Fort Collins, is a favorite among hikers and mountain bikers of all ages. The trail is 3 miles roundtrip and features moderate climbs. For a longer ride or hike, it meets up with Rimrock Open Space for another 4 miles of trail and views of Horsetooth Reservoir. Loveland resident David Miller, loves mountain biking and living on the west side of town because “There are tons of trails within minutes of Loveland to suit any type of rider.”
The Mariana Butte Natural Area is not open to bikes, but offers a hiking and walking trail system, including the Hidden Hogback trail. The new sustainable trails were constructed completely by volunteers to preserve the land. The area is known for panoramic views and wildlife watching opportunities. The Morey Wildlife Reserve is a 33-acre natural area along the Big Thompson River, just west of Mariana Butte Golf Course. It is known as a “birding hotspot” where watchers can find many species of birds including red-tailed hawks, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles.
Swimming, Boating, and Fishing
It often comes as a surprise to newcomers that Loveland is home to several lakes and world-renowned fishing destinations. As the “gateway to the Rockies,” our town attracts water enthusiasts from all over the country. Boyd Lake State Park, on the east side of town, offers something for everybody: boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking, biking, and hunting. The lake features 1,700 surface acres of water, open to all types of watercraft, 148 paved campsites, and a sandy beach for swimmers. Carter Lake, on the southwest side of town, is a 1,100-acre reservoir surrounded by 1,000 acres of public lands. It’s a great place for fishing, sailing, water skiing, camping, picnicking, swimming, scuba diving, and rock climbing. Lake Loveland, in the center of town, is a private lake (the recreational rights belong to the homeowners surrounding the lake) but also offers fishing areas and a swim beach open to the public. North Lake Park has a playground, soccer fields, sculpture park, miniature railroad, and more.
If you are looking for a day of fishing with the family, don’t miss River’s Edge Natural Area. The 163-acre natural park is located south of First St. and east of Taft Ave. There are 5 fishing ponds, plus 3.8 miles of natural-surface trails for pedestrian use, fishing access, bicycling, and wildlife viewing. Boedecker Reservoir, on the west side of town, is local favorite for catching walleye and white bass. For the avid angler, Big Thompson River is the place to catch brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. Stop by the newly restored Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park for a picnic along the river. Located 4 miles west of the entrance to Big Thompson Canyon, this beloved mountain park holds great historical and sentimental significance to the community. The September 2013 Big Thompson Flood caused devastating damage to the park, resulting in its closure to the public for more than 5 years.
Drinking on Patios
Looking for a more mellow day in the Colorado sunshine? Enjoy a drink on one of Loveland’s patios with a view. The Wapiti Colorado Pub at Mariana Butte overlooks the golf course and offers a full menu of food, local beers, wine, and soft drinks. Sweet Heart Winery sources grapes from small-lot vineyards and serves up expertly crafted wine from their riverside tasting room in west Loveland. Head downtown to Loveland’s only rooftop patio at desk chair workspace. It is currently only open for special events, but is worth the wait for craft cocktails, microbrews, and wine on tap. For coffee and creative non-alcohol options, Dark Heart Coffee Bar is the spot. Their menu features single origin coffees, kombucha on tap, and loose leaf teas. The newest patio in Loveland is Backyard Tap, located at 323 N. Railroad Ave. This outdoor tap house provides yard games, food trucks, cold drinks, and family fun. “We are big believers of the deepened social connection that we experience over a cold brew and some great grub with friends and family. Time together in a fun and carefree environment is fuel for our souls that helps grow our relationships within our community. It’s our goal to make this time you’re sharing with us feel like a great gathering in a friend’s backyard.”