A new season is upon Fort Collins. Whether you are local or visiting, it is time to enjoy the great food and beautiful landscape.
If you are from out of town, stay at the charming Armstrong Hotel, a 1923 landmark in downtown Fort Collins. 259 S. College Ave. 970-484-3883 or 866-384-3883. Before your trip, check the weather and pack warm clothes and a blanket for a picnic.
Get up early and start the day with a hearty breakfast at Café Bluebird. The Crepes Florentine are exquisite. Besides this favorite, the café offers a delicious array of eggs, benedicts, skillets and waffles. 524 W. Laurel St. 970-484-7755. The hours are Monday-Friday 6:30 am to 2:00 pm; weekends 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Get on Harmony Road and head west. It turns into County Road 38e. Follow it around Horsetooth Reservoir until you get to Horsetooth Mountain Park (on the right). The entry fee is $6.00 per day. To contact a ranger, call 970-679-4570.
The Horsetooth Mountain hike starts at Soderberg trail. A five-mile trek, it can take three or more hours. At first it involves a steady climb up switchbacks; after about one-fourth of a mile, it becomes more level. The trail takes you into the heart of the park. You’ll see gorgeous views of the plains and wild rock formations.
It is best to hike with two or more people. Make noise to announce your presence before you turn corners or head into dense areas. You may see black bears, bobcats, mule deer, foxes and coyotes; mountain lions are around all year but sightings are rare. Snow and ice exist in places. Wear hiking boots and take traction devices, if you have or can invest in them.
Find a good spot in an open area and lay out the blanket for your picnic. Be sure to have extra layers in your backpack because it will be cooler in the park. Pack out everything you bring. If you feel more comfortable having your picnic down the mountain, the park has picnic benches near the entrance and parking area. Either way, have plenty of water and snacks for the hike.
Head back into town for dinner at Jay’s Bistro. Enjoy the creative and delectable dishes, pleasant atmosphere and live jazz. 135 W. Oak St. 970-482-1876. Dinner hours are from 5:00 pm every day.
End the day at Café Vino. Choose your favorite wine to pair with the Vino Wicked Chocolate Layer Cake, or any of the other rich European-style desserts. 1200 S. College Ave. 970-212-3399. The hours are 7:00 am to midnight every day.
Whether you are local or an out-of-towner, Fort Collins is the perfect place for a spring outing.