My 2013 tour of Fort Collins Natural Areas kicks off with Bobcat Ridge. My first visit there was with an elementary school field trip. Now, if you’ve ever accompanied a hundred fifth-graders on any kind of an educational outing, you will know that it makes for a particular kind of experience—fun, interesting, chaotic, and maybe just a tad exhausting. And often, time management becomes an issue. This was the case with our field trip in that we squeezed in so many learning activities that we only had about ten minutes for actual hiking.
But on a crisp January day during winter break, I had a chance to get a better feel for Bobcat Ridge. A few miles west of Fort Collins, this natural area covers 2,600 acres and has a history of farming and ranching dating back to the 1880s. My family and I took the relatively quick hike back to the Kitchen/Smith Cabin, so named because it was built in 1917 by Ed Kitchen with the help of Edward and Eugene Smith, who owned the land. The cabin retains its original walls and stone foundation, but the rest has been restored as needed to keep it in safe, usable condition.
Bobcat Ridge is also home to one of the city’s Wildlife Project cameras. Eight motion/heat sensitive cameras capture candid shots of the area’s wilder residents going about their daily and nightly business on and off the trails. The photos are available for viewing online and provide a fascinating peek at some of the many species (aside from rambunctious fifth-graders) that can be found in the foothills just west of town. (The only critters we saw this time were the always-entertaining prairie dogs.)
For more information about Bobcat Ridge, including history and trail conditions, click here.