Know Before You Go:
- Trailhead: Mount Margaret
- Website: Mount Margaret Trailhead
- Length: 6.5 miles (our route, round-trip)
- Closest Town: Red Feather Lakes, CO
- Green Horse Friendly: Yes (if they’re ok with water crossings)
- Senior Horse Friendly: Yes
- Barefoot Horse Friendly: Yes
- Beer Friendly: Yes
- Firearm Friendly: Yes
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Obstacles: water, gates, wildlife, dogs, hikers and bikers
- Parking: 5 designated trailer parking spaces with circle drive
The Nitty Gritty:
6/9/2015: While I’m undeniably happy that our state is receiving much needed rainfall, this also means many of the trails on my radar are still under several feet of snow. That said, we decided to try out the Mount Margaret Trail with some hesitation. Being fairly close to Ft. Collins, that it was free fishing weekend and that it was not raining for the first time in weeks, I expected this trail to be jam packed with outdoor enthusiasts. I am pleased to announce this was not the case! While on the trail, we passed only a handful of people (a few with dogs) and no other horses. A few of the trails allowed bikes though we did not see any.
This is by far the nicest trailer parking at any trailhead I’ve been to yet. There are 5 designated, pull-through spots with a circle drive which makes for an easy exit. Side note – don’t park where we did. The “no parking” signs were down on the ground so we didn’t see them right off and we made the adjustment after the pic was taken. There are clean, vault toilet at the trailhead along with two hitching racks. I did not see any water at the parking lot but there is a creek along the trail.
This is a well maintained, easy riding trail that would be good for riders of most levels. Green horses should do ok so long as they aren’t opposed to water. Lone Pine Creek is running pretty darn high currently and we both got our feet wet going through it (see pictures). No bridges that we came across but there are a fair number of gates to deal with (great option if you want to practice your gate skills so long as you don’t get lapped by hikers like we did while trying to win an argument with your horse…). We saw LOTS of fresh moose tracks so just a reminder that it’s calving season and they’re not the friendliest of creatures. Also, in the several hours we were on the trail, we had sun, rain and hail so come prepared!
From the parking lot, you’ll start by going through a portion of burned forest and come to Lone Pine Creek about 0.7 miles in. As I mentioned, it’s much larger than normal currently and gets unexpectedly deep in the middle so take it slow. It’s 1.4 miles to the first gate. After going through this gate, you’ll have the option to continue on the main trail (979) or turn left onto a spur that leads you to a T for 503 or East Dowdy Lake trail. We took this spur to he left and then another left onto East Dowdy Lake trail (503). From here you’ll follow a relatively wide trail to another gate. If you continue through the gate, at 2 miles (from the parking lot) you’ll see a small trail heading to he right which takes you to Dowdy Lake. We made it to the lake just to check it out and then turned around. Once back through the gate, we kept straight on 503 (this is a good area to let your horse stretch their legs a bit) and at 3 miles you’ll note some cool rock formations on your right. Go another half mile and you’ll come to a large intersection. From here you can go to the left (9 o’clock) to check out the frog pond (503.1), straight (1 o’clock) to Mount Margaret or right (5 o’clock) to the main trail (979). There is another right (3 o’clock) that was originally the Loop A (503c) you see on the maps. We did take this but it appears the forest service is making attempts to restore this area so we didn’t continue. All in all the route we took was about 6.5 miles.