Now that the Big Thompson Canyon is open after reconstruction of U.S. 34, so is the Round Mountain Trailhead, the start of the Foothills Nature Trail and the Summit Adventure Trail.
The Big Thompson Canyon, and its namesake river, are popular draws for anglers casting their lines into the flowing waters, wildlife lovers hoping for a glance of the bighorn sheep and those who simply want a glimpse of the majestic canyon walls en route to Estes Park.
But midway up the canyon, close to the Cedar Cove neighborhood but across the road, is a place to park and set off on foot — the Round Mountain Trailhead on city of Loveland property. About a quarter-mile from the parking lot, which is about 12 miles west of Loveland, the trail splits into two paths, one an easy jaunt and the other much longer and more difficult.
Hikers can choose a 4.5-mile trek to the summit of Sheep Mountain, a journey that is classified as a “moderate” hike and expected to take 6-8 hours in and back. Most of this trail was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, though portions have been rebuilt by a group of Loveland teenagers, according to information on the city of Loveland website.
This trail, which stretches onto the Roosevelt National Forest, sports a 2,707-foot elevation gain by the time it reaches the summit of Sheep Mountain.
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