Updated: Mar 8, 2020
This large outdoor space is actually part of a conglomerate of several different parks and natural areas, all of which border each other and are connected by trails and walking paths. Hidden just off one of the busiest streets in Fort Collins, Colorado, Salyer Natural Area feels secluded from the city fuss. This was a great place to take a walk with the dogs along the Cache la Poudre River.
We decided to try a path that made a loop through the Salyer Natural Area. A network of trails weaves through the area, and we would encounter many paths along the way that intersected with the trek we were on.
To find the park, we turned off of North College Avenue onto Woodlawn Drive. At the end of the short road was a parking area. Off to our left sat a bridge; directly in front of us was a dirt trail. These would end up being the beginning and finishing points of our loop, respectively. We took a left over the bridge, into the wooded area.
We made our way along the paved walking path, heading generally south. The shaded areas were still patchy with snow. It was a nice walk through the forest, even though we were very much still within the city.
We came to a large 'T' intersection. An informative sign gave us a lesson on the local wildlife and instructed us that we were nearing Lee Martinez Community Park. Sure enough, a left turn (or south) at the intersection would have taken us to a large playground, not far from where we stood. We continued our walk by taking a right on the path ahead, which began to follow the river.
The Cache la Poudre River flows through the park and continues into the city. Many biking and walking paths within Fort Collins follow the river and several other parks border it.
The dogs really enjoyed their walk along the paved pathway in the woods. We passed many other people and their dogs out enjoying a morning stroll in the park. This seemed to be a very popular place for dog-walking.
There were several opportunities to go down to the river's edge, but the normally roaring stream was exceptionally low. Much of the riverbank was exposed and dry, eagerly awaiting the winter snowfalls to help replenish the waterway.
The girls were intent on walking down to the water's edge to investigate the river. They dipped their paws in the cold, shallow creek. The riverbed was filled with smells to be discovered, and the dogs had fun sniffing around by the stream.
Near us was a bright blue bridge spanning the water. When the girls were done exploring the southern banks of the river, we got back on the path and took a right over the bridge.
Shorty after crossing the bridge, we came to a sign indicating that we had reached the spot where the western border of Salyer Natural Area runs into the eastern border of the McMurry Natural Area. We headed to the right (or mostly east) along the dirt pathways on this side of the river, staying in the Salyer Natural Area. We were now making our way back in the general direction of the parking lot.
The trails through the nature area were lovely. The paved paths from the beginning of our trek had now become wide dirt paths through tall grass and bare trees. Maggie found more snow to roll in. This was a delightful place to explore in the chilly weather.
We continued along the path. The girls stopped to sniff nearly everything along the way. The trees had shed most of their leaves making it easier to spot squirrels, although there weren't many out and about during our visit. The dogs were having a fantastic time exploring the trails through the natural area.
Before long we had completed the path we were on and ended up back in the parking lot we had started from, not far from the car.
This was a great place to take a walk with the dogs. It felt like being in the forest, even though we were still in the bustling city. The network of trails made it easy to tailor the length of the walk to our specific needs that day. We could enjoy shopping in the morning, then a nice stroll in the woods before lunch!
There were more pathways than we had time to traverse during our visit, but that just means we look forward to going back. We would love to return to this beautiful place and explore more of the expansive network of trails and parks that Fort Collins has to offer!