Cheyenne Ridge/Big Hole Loop
Red Mountain Open Space
Red Mountain Open Space is about an hour from my home in Fort Collins, and most of the journey is on dirt road, so it's not as heavily used as many other preserved open space units in the region. It's part of a system that includes Soapstone Prairie Natural Area (City of Fort Collins) and the Big Hole Open Space (City of Cheyenne, WY).
Geology isn't my strongest point, but it's effectively a hole in the plains that exposes a bunch of red rock and dirt and sort of looks like some parts of New Mexico to me. It has a high desert feel with lots of yucca and sage and no trees to get in the way of the views.
The trail starts in the canyon and climbs back up to the plains. Views are spectacular once you get up there. I followed the Cheyenne Rim Trail north, briefly into Wyoming, and then looped back from there.
It was a beautiful spring day, 42 degrees when I started. In two hours I met two hikers, one mountain biker, and I surprised a couple horse riders on a blind corner, which luckily ended up with no one getting hurt.It's closed in the winter and I'd worry about snakes in the summer, but just right on a cool spring or fall day.
Note on elevation profiles: I'm still working on extracting better data from my Garmin files.