The Brighter Writer


The Legend of Horsetooth Rock

So when Jason and I were first looking at places in Fort Collins to live via the Internet from California, we didn't know this town at all. The street names were completely foreign. We knew nothing about the neighborhoods and even less about the surrounding landscapes. We finally settled on a quaint little apartment sitting on the corner of Horsetooth and Timberline Road. Horsetooth is one of the busiest streets here in Fort Collins, named after the 25 mile long Horsetooth Reservoir located in the same county. Never one time did it occur to me to ask where the name Horsetooth came from. So it wasn't until months after living here that I came to find out the mountain directly in front of our little college town that was shaped so oddly was, in fact, Horsetooth Rock.

I always thought it looked funny, and now that it has been pointed out, OK yes, I see how it may look a bit like a horse's molar.

Horsetooth Rock, Fort Collins Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

After doing a bit more research, I've also come to find out this mountain has more of a story to it than just the coincidence of looking like a horse's jacked up grill.

According to the Native American legend, The Valley of Contentment, (which is today's Horsetooth Reservoir) was at one time the responsibility of a giant. The Giant's job was to protect the wild animals in the valley from getting hunted by Chief Maunamoku and his tribe of Indians. So when the giant got in his way, the Chief led the Indians to slay him. The Chief himself went directly for the giant and in killing him slashed the center of his heart first, then the right, then the left with a tomahawk from the heavens. Upon his death, the giant turned into stone and his slain heart turned into what is now known as Horsetooth Rock.

Yes, well, isn't that pleasant?

There's actually another side to the story that the giant was super evil and that Chief Maunamoku saved the village people (the regular kind, not the YMCA kind) by coming to their aid and defeating the beast. Either way the story is told, the strange formation in the rock is the petrified heart of the giant. Years later, a group of fur trappers and traders decided that the mountain looked more like a horse's tooth than a giant's slashed heart and shortly after the name Horsetooth started showing up on maps. So... Horsetooth was, in fact, their final answer.

So anyway, I've wanted to hike to the top of this giant's heart ever since I've laid eyes on it. I've been bugging my sister for months to come climb it with me, but we've never been able to sync our schedules...

...until last Thursday.

5.5 miles round trip to a 7,260 ft summit is the funnest thing ever to do on a boring spring morning. What a blast! The trail is partly laid out in a nice friendly fashion and then the end you're actually climbing up a stone wall and hoping to find the top. Had we not run into a couple other hikers on the way, we most likely wouldn't have found our final destination.

Horsetooth summit, Fort Collins Colorado #ColorfulColorado

So the moral of the story is... Don't take your local giant for granite.

(I'm so funny.)

Also, if you live near Fort Collins, climb the rock. It's an amazing view at the top. On a clear day you can see parts of Wyoming so I've heard.

And now it totally makes since why my nephew randomly found a set of Giant's toes at the Spring Canyon Park which sits at the end of Horsetooth Road.

Horsetooth Giant's Feet, Fort Collins Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado