Priority Area: 
Devil's Backbone to Horsetooth   Map
2198.3 Acres
More Info: 


The Devil's Backbone Open Space protects wildlife habitat, a rare plant community and provides for expanded recreational activities.  Its focal point, a unique rock formation featuring The Keyhole, is easily spotted from many locales.  The Devil's Backbone is located off Hidden Valley Drive, approximately 2 miles west of the intersection of Wilson and Eisenhower in Loveland.

It is a very popular spot, so if you should arrive and find the parking lot full you will know that the trails are at maximum capacity.  Please consider one of our other open spaces, such as Ramsay-Shockey Open Space or Rimrock Open Space for your outdoor enjoyment that day, and come back to the Devil's Backbone another time.

Management Summary

  Yes No Comments
Permit Required *    
*   Easy to moderate. Trail length is currently 7 miles long, round trip, and unpaved. The Backbone Trail loop (3.5 mi.) has marked stops that coordinate with an interpretive brochure. The Keyhole trail is closed seasonally in the spring to accommodate nesting ravens.
  • hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • horses
Restrooms *   Restrooms at trailhead.
Drinking fountains *   Located at the trailhead. No water facilities on the trail
Dogs allowed *   Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Property Information

Type of Acquisition #Acres Property
Bargain Sales
Fee simple 1545.0 $ 5,410,000 Larimer Co - $ 1,352,500
Fort Collins - $ 4,057,500
2003 Future Trail 2006*
Fee simple 219.0 $ 2,084,000 Larimer Co - $ 208,400
Loveland - $ 1,875,600
2003 Yes
Fee simple 9.5 $ 248,000 Larimer Co - $ 248,000 2002 Yes
Fee simple 22.0 $ 95,000 Larimer Co - $ 95,000 2000 Yes
Fee simple 7.1 $ 35,500 Larimer Co - $ 35,500 2000 Yes
Fee simple
Conservation easement
$ 864,500 Larimer Co - $ 589,500
Stryker Short - $ 200,000
Loveland - $ 75,000
1999 Yes
Fee simple
Conservation easement
$ 485,520 Larimer Co - $ 410,520
Loveland - $ 75,000
1998 Yes
Fee simple 6.1 $ 92,500 Larimer Co - $ 92,500 1998 Yes

* This will be part of the future regional trail system from Devil's Backbone to Lory State Park.

Management Plan

A management plan for Devil's Backbone Open Space has been in place since 1999. It was updated, with an extensive public process in 2004. The plan accommodates multiple-use recreation such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding on the 7-mile trail system. The trailhead at Devil's Backbone features restroom facilities, drinking water, horse-trailer parking and a picnic area.

The complete plan can be accessed at

Future Vision

Subsequent acquisitions in this vicinity and adjacent to Devil's Backbone Open Space, such as Indian Creek and Hidden Valley, have been included in the updated management plan. In future years, the Devil's Backbone trailhead will be the southern access point of an estimated 14-mile regional trail system.