DIRECTIONS: From Woodland Park, CO take Hwy 67 West for about 15 miles to the town of Florissant, CO. Turn left (south) and take County Road 1 for 1.5 miles into the Monument and to the Hornbeck Homestead Parking Area.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was created primarily to protect the fossilized stumps of ancient Redwood trees. However, the monument also protects the historic Hornbeck Ranch and its surrounding environment. The, almost, four mile long Hornbeck Wildlife Loop is a wonderful way to explore the various resources protected at Florissant Fossil Beds.
The hike begins at the Hornbeck Homestead. Hike over to the ranch and explore the site, learning the amazing story of... an inspirational frontier woman. From the homestead, follow the trail to the west through a hilly terrain and cross the bed of an ancient lake, now a seasonal wetland. Cross the footbridge and follow the trail as it heads up to the pine forest. The trail skirts the edge of the forrest and travels along Boulder Creek to the junction with the Boulder Creek Trail. Turn left and follow the Boulder Creek Trail up into another pine forest.
At the next junction, the Hornbeck Wildlife Loop continues by turning left. This trail takes you down to the visitors center and the main grove of fossilized Redwood tree stumps. The trail continues to the north of the visitor center along the Petrified Forest Trail. At the fork in the trail, bear right to follow the Hornbeck Wildlife Loop. The trail takes you down to the road, cross carefully, and head over to a footbridge at the base of a colorful rock outcropping.
The trail climbs steadily up through a gully filled with pine and aspen trees. As you climb higher, you are treated to nice views of the valley and the fossil beds below. The trail weaves through the forrest to the high point, with nice views. The trail then descends to the north and reaches the junction with the Hornbeck Connector Trail which takes you to the Shootin' Star and Twin Rocks Trails. Head down the Hornbeck Wildlife Loop Trail for the final segment which again crosses the road and leads back to the Hornbeck Homestead. The views from the final portion of the loop are some of the best in the monument.
The Hornbeck Wildlife Loop provides a little taste of all that Florissant Fossil Beds has to offer. History, petrified Redwood stumps, beautiful and varied terrain, and (hopefully) some wildlife along the way.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Hornbeck Wildlife Loop
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Date Hiked: August 8, 2020
Distance: 3.7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 8,075 to 8,675 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 38.92690, -105.28178
Managing Agency: National Park Service