Lory State Park is a Colorado State Park that’s best known for wildfowers, (see bottom of page for some pictures), butterflies, and Arthur’s Rock. This is one of the park’s highest points at 6,780 feet.
About seven dozen kinds of wildflowers grow along the Arthur’s Rock trail. Along with flowers come butterflies, and Lory State Park has recorded about 100 different species of them.
Song birds can also be found here. The most common one that I’ve been aware of is the mourning dove. Every time I’ve visited this park, I’ve heard the soothing call of this great bird.
I’ve also seen a western tanager, some western meadowlarks, a mountain bluebird, and a bird that looked like a spotted towhee. (Also heard chickadees.)
Then on one of the trails, we encountered someone who said he had seen a wild turkey with her babies. I wish we had been that lucky!
Some of the animals that make their home at Lory State Park include: mule deer, wild turkey, black bear, mountain lion, coyote, cottontail rabbit, and many reptile species. One of those reptile species is the rattlesnake so do be aware of that point.
Lory State Park is a dog friendly state park but remember to keep yours on a leash. I don’t bring my dog to this park since I don’t want any encounters with rattlesnakes. But this decision is up to you. I haven’t yet seen any rattlesnakes here but I know that other people have.
So, if you’re ready, here are the directions to Lory State Park: from Fort Collins, take Hwy. 287 north through LaPorte; turn left at the Bellvue exit, (County Road 52E); turn left again on CR 23N, go another 1.4 miles and turn right onto CR 25G. Then just follow the road to the park.
There’s a small visitor center at the entrance to Lory State Park, and as always, it’s a good idea to stop there and get a brochure/map of the park. It’s good for finding your way around!
Hiking Trails at Lory State Park
Well Gulch Nature Trail
Start: Well Gulch trailhead
End: Homestead picnic area
Round-trip distance: 1.5 miles, (counting the short walk along the park road, back to your car.)
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 1 hour
Directions to Well Gulch Nature trail: follow the only road through the park until you see the sign for Well Gulch nature trail on your right. The parking lot is on the left side of the road.
The first portion of this trail is open until you get into the pine trees. Then it goes back and forth between open areas and more pine trees. Along the way, you get great views of Horsetooth Reservoir. The reservoir is located outside of Lory State Park but it borders the eastern side of the park. We also saw wildflowers along this trail and lots of butterflies.
At one point, we saw a patch of poison ivy which was marked with a sign. Don’t let this deter you from the trail though. It’s off of the trail and won’t bother you if you don’t touch it. Eventually, the trail ends at a small picnic area. From here, you are near the only dirt road through the park. Just follow it back to the parking area and your car.
Hikers, bikers, and horses welcome;
Start: Shoreline trail sign
End: Shoreline trail sign
Round-trip distance: 2 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate because of rocks;
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 50 minutes;
Directions to Shoreline trail: from the only park road, the Shoreline trail is just a short drive beyond the Eltuck picnic area. You’ll see the sign for the Shoreline trail and its parking area, on the left side of the road.
The Shoreline trail is aptly named since it takes you down to the shore of Horsetooth Reservoir. This is a mostly open trail with a few trees closer to the reservoir. At one point, you come to a split in the trail. We chose to go straight, (instead of to the right), but I assume that the right-hand trail also leads down to the reservoir.
The Lory State Park brochure says that this is a good trail for spotting deer. We didn’t see any but we did see their tracks. After we finished this hike, and were driving away on the park road, a deer suddenly ran across the park road in front of us. I didn’t manage to get a picture of it but at least I know they exist here.
Start: Homestead picnic area
End: Arthur’s Rock trailhead
Round-trip distance: 2.8 miles, (counting the walk along the park road, back to your car.)
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, (counting the walk along the park road, back to your car.)
Directions to Overlook trail: follow the park road until you see the sign for the Homestead picnic area on your right.
Most of this trail is open and can be hot although parts of it do become forested and provide some shade. After a short climb at the beginning, the trail becomes relatively flat as it travels along a ridge. You’ll get very nice views of the reservoir along this portion, and at one point, you’ll pass a main overlook area on your left. It’s definitely worth a look!
Shortly after this overlook, you start to go down the mountain and the area becomes more forested and shaded. We saw a western tanager along here and they are really pretty birds if you’re lucky enough to see one. We also saw a good amount of cactus near the trail, so be careful if you bring your canine friend with you.
Eventually, you’ll come out of the trees and back into open areas. Keep following the trail and at one point it will branch. Take the left branch down to the Arthur’s Rock trailhead. From there, just follow the road back to the Homestead picnic area and your car.
Arthur’s Rock Trail
Start: Arthur’s Rock trailhead
End: Arthur’s Rock trailhead
Round-trip distance: 3.4 miles
Difficulty level: moderate to difficult;
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Directions to Arthur’s Rock trailhead: follow the only park road to the end of the road, and the Arthur’s Rock trailhead is on your right.
In mid June, this trail is by far the best trail at Lory State Park. This is because there are about seven dozen different kinds of wildflowers that bloom along or near the trail. It’s definitely a great trail if you like wildflowers!
The trail starts out relatively easily and takes you through some forested areas. Before long, you reach meadows with large numbers of silvery lupine flowers. Along the way, you will have views of Arthur’s Rock from various spots. When you are about three quarters of the way along the trail, you will reach an overlook point on your right, and it’s definitely worth a stop.
Shortly after that, you will reach a large patch of poison ivy, as well as a sign identifying it. Beyond that, it’s not much further until you reach the most difficult part of this hike in Lory State Park. It’s a short but steep section of trail that requires scrambling over rocks. Take your time and you will be rewarded with a sweeping view of Horsetooth Reservoir and the Front Range.
The following pictures are a few of the different types of wildflowers we saw on the Arthur's Rock hike. If you go, you'll see many others too. :-) And by the way, the peak bloom here is usually around mid June, so that would be the time to go if you like flowers.
There are several other trails at Lory State Park and I’ll be telling you about them after I get to them. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what I have here so far.