It doesn’t look like much, but looks can be deceiving.
Hole in the Rock is definitely a great place to relax, get some really cool pictures, and even see a few animals along the way. We went for the sunset, which led to a breathtaking view of the city of Phoenix, and a short hike to get to the top.
To get to Hole in the Rock, follow directions to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, since they share a parking lot. It was free parking and we were able to pull right up to the trailhead. (We also went at dusk so few people were there.) From there, it is twenty minutes to the top and back at most.
There are dirt and rock paths the whole way up, but watch your step since rocks are scattered everywhere. Also, be careful not to move any since you don’t know what creature is living under there. I will admit we looked for scorpions, but didn’t see any.
You actually go behind the large rock formation (pictured above) to reach the Hole. There are steps paved into the rocks which is really cool! The sunset was a beautiful time to go and sit and watch the sun set behind the skyline of Phoenix. I would recommend that or during sunrise.
We went a little farther on our hike than just the Hole. To reach the absolute peak, it took a lot of climbing and sliding. There is no easy way up the side of the formation and I wish I had had shoes with more grip. It took some balance and coordination, a few slips here and there, but I eventually made it to the top. Same view, but a little hard work put into it.
It got dark pretty fast so getting down was even harder than going up. It was slick and rocks were shifting as I put my weight on them. We all did it though.
To get to the main part of Hole in the Rock, little physical activity is required (except the stairs) and any type of attire is okay. Bring a camera as well! The hike only takes 10-15 minutes tops so theres no need to bring water or food along unless you plan on staying for awhile. Beyond that, climbing above the Hole like we did, I would suggest close-toed shoes that have traction and comfortable clothing to climb up. That only takes about five minutes each way as well.
Either way, Hole in the Rock is definitely a quick and cool place to stop by if you are in the area and want something to do. It has an amazing view you won’t get anywhere else and is pleasantly surprising.
Here I was, the quiet and introverted small town girl, leaving home for the first time ever to head to a far away land. I was alone. Completely alone and didn’t know a soul. Besides that, I had never had a large groups of friends before in high school. I stayed pretty close to home and pretty close to them. So leaving was a big decision and a big change of pace. I would have to overcome my fear of meeting new people and giving off my “shy” vibes.
I hated the Welcome Weekend to be honest. They forced me into ice breakers and name games, both things I typically avoided at all costs. I don’t find it comfortable or logical to meet people in such a forced manner. Friendship would happen naturally, and connections on a deeper level took more time than stating your major and where you’re from.
But here’s some tips on how to get past shyness in college (mostly after Welcome Weekend):
Join A Club
Okay, Ill admit it, I signed up for way too many clubs at the beginning of the year. They had rows and rows of tables giving away free stuff and all I had to do was write down my email. Sounds good right? Wrong. Now I have to ask to be taken off email lists or send them all straight to spam every week. So focus on a club you will put time into, that truly interests you, and realize that you have something in common with every person in the room with you. Sit by someone you don’t know (and who looks to be alone even), and I mean sit right next to them, that way you at least are almost forced to greet them. Then, you can introduce yourself, ask them about their major, and why they like the club. You aren’t going to make friends with everyone you meet and you probably won’t talk to them after that meeting, but ever now and then you’ll find someone you connect with. Then, next time you know a familiar face.
Go With A Group
At the beginning of the year, halls typically go out to eat together or spend time together bonding. You might not be close with anyone in your hall, that is perfectly okay, neither am I. But I was able to go on a few hikes with people I didn’t know at all. It sounds nerve-wracking and it was. You have to realize that on a hike you’re busy. You’re moving around constantly and you don’t always have to talk, look for an activity that you can alone but also engage with other people if you want. I stuck to a smaller group as the hike moved on, and occasionally would nod my head at something someone said, and eventually get a sentence in. It doesn’t have to be full blown conversations or exchanging phone numbers, but I actually learned their names as time went on. Soon enough, we had planned to eat together later that week. In the start of the year, everyone is meeting new people and getting into a groove, they are probably in the same boat as you when it comes to making friends.
Make A Friend In Each Class
This is definitely a hard one for me. When I’m in 200+ people lectures, I’m just trying to zone out everyone else and get the notes down. I’m not trying to make conversation, I need to focus. But take a few minutes to get there early if you can or sit by someone new each class. I know this is not going to happen for all of us, and sometimes we just plain don’t feel like talking at 8 am, but having someone there with you makes it seem a lot more bearable. Plus, they keep you accountable for focusing on the lecture since you don’t want to distract them when Pinterest is up on your computer screen instead of the lecture notes. Labs are a great place to get to know people as well–I mean you are stuck with them for three hours straight, its in your best interest to work together and have fun while doing it.
Just Do It
Just say hi. Just tell that girl you like her shirt. Just sit near that cute boy at the student center. What is the worst case scenario? You feel embarrassed for five minutes and never see them again. Okay, maybe you’ll see them every now and then (even my larger campus feels extremely small) but who cares? You need to get used to putting yourself out there and feeling uncomfortable is natural actually. That person you say hi to may be shy as well and just waiting for someone like you to start conversation. They might be an awesome conversationist but can never show it because they don’t step up and introduce themselves. It can feel and be awkward at times, but don’t let that stop you from trying to build relationships with people.
Look For Social Events
Social events? You mean go there by myself? Yes I do. I know this sounds crazy, and sometimes I think I am, but going to a basketball game by myself isn’t all bad. I’ll be honest, I chicken out sometimes and sit by myself, but if I really want to try and meet new people I will head down to the student section. At least I am part of a group and I know I have two things in common with these people:
We are here to cheer on and support our school. High fives all around and wearing school colors makes you a part of something bigger, even if you still are high-fiving yourself.
They have some interest in this sport, or sports in general. I choose basketball because I like watching the game. Maybe that person does too, or is here because there friends dragged them along. Either way, you can ask about it if you feel brave and maybe a conversation will spark.
Go get out there.
Be Confident and Love Yourself
This is probably the most important point to keep in mind. Somewhere along the line of lonely nights, anxiety attack-filled weeks, and the occasional bad test score, my self esteem has sky-rocketed. I have had more bumps in the road than I can count, and feeling alone made it that much harder. Try keeping your old friends close too, you never know what is going on with their lives and we all are fighting our own battles. Once you feel confident, nothing keeps you back from doing what you want. It makes it easier to be you and feel at peace with yourself. If you can love yourself, you can do whatever you put your mind to. You won’t be so nervous when meeting new people, you’ll be aware of how worthy you are, and be able to know when to walk away. You come first.
College is stressful and so is making friends. I don’t have very many here at school, and that is okay, as long as I keep reaching out to new people. I have broadened my horizons in so many ways since I left home. Sometimes you realize that the people you were friends at the beginning of the year might not be there four years down the road, that is completely normal. The more you learn about each other, the more you might realize that you don’t connect very well. Making life long friends can’t and won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Don’t worry about it. This is for all the quiet kids out there, you are brave, and you can overcome your shyness in college. I’m here cheering you on.
South Mountain, located in South Phoenix, has so much to offer any type of traveler–biker, runner, or hiker. To get to the top of South Mountain was twisting and turning miles of road, which we took up by car, and shared with plenty of bikers. There were a couple peak places to choose from, but we went to Dobbins Lookout first.
Once near the top and heading South, you can get out and stretch your legs for a great view of the other parts of South Mountain. When walking to the North, there is an old stone building and amazing view of the valley and the city of Phoenix. It was the perfect photo opportunity.
Once you have explored the top, there are various paths you can take around, into and out of canyons. For us, we headed down the side of the mountain, surrounded with large cacti and boulders, which were homes to many lizards. At one time, I was five feet from a wild coyote. We both stared at each other for a few seconds before it turned away and headed off in the opposite direction.
The trails are labeled pretty carefully and have warnings of rattlesnakes being present so you need to watch out. Be aware when stepping on large rocks or moving them, you don’t know what is living under them. Going off of the trail gets a bit rough since it is wild desert land (and I know that since we had to to get back up the way we had came). One thing that surprised me about Arizona is how green the desert scene really is. I expected sand and the occasional tumble weed, but the plant life is vibrant colors and vast in size.
I came to the realization that it truly is an under-appreciated landscape.
After having explored from the lookout for a little while, we drove to another lookout about a 10 minute drive away. This one was not as populated, but also not as prime of a view. It had a few trails present, but we did not head out on them.
South Mountain is a tourist attraction and any type of physicality is able to visit there because of it. I would recommend a pair of close-toed shoes for the hiking trails, but if you plan on staying up top then any shoe attire is okay. I was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts without ever getting too hot.
You can even buy some handmade bracelets and necklaces up there made by some locals.
South Mountain is a great place to visit, especially if you don’t have much time and you are nearby, with a view that won’t let you down.
The hike of hikes in Phoenix, AZ. It is labeled a double black diamond in difficulty and I quickly learned why.
I was on spring break and going to Arizona was a dream come true. Hot weather. Cool pools. Desert landscape. Coming from Colorado, I was used to the snow and winter jackets. Phoenix temperatures were averaging in the 90’s and the dry heat was something to get used to.
I hadn’t realized how large the mountains were surrounding the Phoenix area and every direction you looked was another mass. Camelback Mountain was the “one” you heard about and the “one” that proved you could hike if you could complete it.
We drove to the trailhead, which actually has no parking because it is in the middle of a neighborhood, so you have to park down the road. There is free parking for certain hours during the day which was convenient, even with a little bit of a walk back to the trailhead. The street was loaded with cars and people, going and coming from the trail. There were many middle-aged adults, children, and even some elderly hikers. I thought that if the three grandma’s that passed by me could make it to the top, it wouldn’t be a problem. Boy, I was wrong. We started our climb around 11 that morning (big mistake!) and were still making our up past noon and 1, where the temperature continued to rise and was dreadful. I would suggest going earlier in the morning, when its cooler, around 8.
I cannot iterate how much water you need to bring. At least three water bottles per person (AT LEAST!). I would also strongly recommend bringing along a snack (fruit or vegetables) that can keep up your hydration and keep you from drinking more water. A t-shirt and shorts is perfect, but bring nice shoes that you wouldn’t mind getting dusty. Don’t forget to bring a hat or visor to keep your face out of the sun, and ladies–hair up! The ironic thing is the farther you climb up, the cooler it gets. The beginning of the trailhead started at about 95 degrees and slowly dropped. By the time we reached the peak, it was a warm day with a cool breeze; perfect.
The beginning of the hike begins on open switchbacks, no shade, and rocky steps. This is the easy part, with places to overlook the surrounding area, and some great cactuses to take pictures with. There is a lot of people on the trail, but it never feels too crowded. This lasts about a half hour and at the end of this section, it is lots of stepping up and around rocks, so take a break if you need it.
I had stopped a few times already going up all the makeshift “stairs”, when we reached my favorite part of the hike. This was open mountainside, with shaded areas, and stretched walking paths for about twenty minutes. There was little hard climbing to do and had awesome photo opportunities.
When this ended, you began for the “fake” peak. This was open in the sun, pretty much blistering hot, and all rocky terrain. The helicopter pad is your sign of the hike starting to get hard. This is where I really begin to break quite often. As seen in my picture below, it is legit climbing up and down formations of the rock. The trail was no longer labeled by signs, but spray painted blue dots to keep you heading in the right direction. How you next reached those dots, was all on you. There was no easy choice in most cases and you could see how much longer you had to go. You get to the top of what you think is the end of the rough climbing, just to look over and see you have another 15 minutes to go. It doesn’t sound like much, but after the past hour and forty-five minutes you’ve done, you do not want to continue.
But we had made it that far and there was no way I was turning around now. I pushed through my sweat and dirty hands and made it to the peak. The trick was not looking how much farther you had to go, but just staying focused on the next five feet in front of you. Once you get to the top, it is a flat, vast lookout. You can see for miles in all directions. There were actually quite a few people up there with us, sitting and resting after that morning workout. I would say it takes about two hours to reach the peak, or more if you break often. Many people brought their dogs, some who were extremely little, but as long as you have enough water, they seemed to be okay with climbing and the heat.
Getting to the top was good, but the journey up was what was great. I thought the views on the ascent were much better than the actual peak’s overlook, but it was still so worth it. I definitely would do that hike again (after a little break!) and although, it was difficult I wouldn’t be scared away.
As I said, Camelback was labeled a double black diamond and for good reason. I would be prepared physically and mentally for a hike like this–especially if you are not used to the heat. It is definitely on the to-do-list and I wish you the best of luck. Remember to bring LOTS OF water and take breaks. Its easy to get lightheaded so try going when it is easier in the morning. The descent was fast, still climbing but with gravity to help you, and took less than an hour. The altitude change had not affected me on the way up, but going down definitely did.We went down so quickly our hands swelled up. (I couldn’t even get my ring off because my hands were so swollen.) This is just something to keep in mind, and after a few minutes, my hands were back to normal anyway.
Overall, the hard of this climb is what made it great. Do try some more challenging climbs, stay safe, and happy hiking!
This is a year-round kind of place, easily accessible by car, and then on foot as well once you reach the reservoir. I’ve been here numerous, numerous times in the past nine months and have yet to be let down.
There is no fee for parking, but that only lasts while the sun is still up. I’ve definitely been there at night as well, and lucky for me, I’ve never been ticketed. Theres always people there, even at midnight, and you would be amazed all the things you can do while at the reservoir. It doesn’t look like much at first–but swimming, hiking, biking, and running only begin to cover it.
Horsetooth Reservoir is host to a very active population, no matter the time of year. It is home to deer and prairie dogs for the most part, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see coyotes and a couple snakes out there.
There are boaters in the spring, fishers throughout the winter, and kayakers in the summer.
Once at the reservoir, you can follow trails down to the water for a hike or head North and South on trails as well. There are plenty of biking trails, although the rocks make it more difficult for runner, if you want an easier hike. Other times, there are bushes and plants poking at you and you have to squeeze your way through makeshift trails to get where you want to go. None of the reservoir is extremely hard to get around, so you don’t need to be a superstar athlete. Plenty of people enjoy walking the paths near the parking lots, and all you need is some closed-toed shoes.
You can see the art of the Fort Collins population on some of the rocks, a few hideaways of past bonfires and other recreational activities, and at night, the sky is littered with a thousand stars. This is where the entire student population went to watch the Blood Moon and you could not find a place to park!
Horsetooth is a great place for sunsets, as they reflect over the reservoir, and give you some amazing photo opportunities. It also hosts the annual Horsetooth Half Marathon–which happens in the April of each year.
If you don’t want to spend the day there, don’t worry, a quick drive up (only 10 minutes from campus) will give you a solid view in all directions without you ever having to leave the car.
This isn’t a traditional “hike” in the sense of going up a mountain and reaching a peak. But you definitely can hike through Poudre Canyon.
It is about a twenty to twenty-five minute drive to Roosevelt National Forest, where there are plenty of people pulling over to the side of the road and taking pictures. There are fishers using the Poudre River to their advantage and the occasional kayaker. It is definitely a nature-oriented area and gets good use any day of the week.
The spots I stopped at were gorgeous, with rushing water, and giant rocks to climb over. They were great for pictures and the sun cast a beautiful light off the water. We made our way down the river and through some tough obstacles, but it was worth it. The weather was on our side that day, even in November, and all I needed was a light sweatshirt and leggings. I wore my L.L. Bean boots, comfortable as ever and worth the expense, which I wear from October to March. They keep my feet warm and protected, and look cute while doing it.
It is easy to maneuver your way from place to place, especially with a car, but for the daredevils like me, a moderately active lifestyle is probably necessary to be jumping from rock to rock. There are some slippery edges and jagged areas, so you have to watch yourself. For the most part, there are many casual walking trails and cool stopping points for everyone to enjoy no matter the physicality.
All I brought with me was a camera and left my water in the car. This type of day can last as long as you want–one hour to five. I spent the afternoon outside and don’t regret it one bit.
The water was still rushing in mid-November, but Colorado weather is crazy so you really never know what you’re going to get. No matter when you go, its worth a drive and you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve already covered the basis of the Horsetooth Mountain hike, so here is the end. Once you are out of the forest-covered area and onto the open, rocky terrain, you still have a long way to go.
Its another half hour to forty-five minutes to reach Horsetooth Rock itself, and climb up it. For many reasons, this is tough.
First, you are tired from the long hike you’ve already had and you know you still have to go back down.
Second, it is getting on all fours to climb up the last bits of jagged rock and cliff sides. I’m not kidding, one wrong move and you will never be seen again.
Third, I went with a large group of people, and a dog, of which some did not make it all the way. And there was no possible way that the dog could without being carried. There was a lot of waiting and organizing who was going up while another person was coming down. It was great teamwork for sure though.
Lucky for me, on this day, there was little wind and no cold to battle. We laid out on the top of Horsetooth for about an hour and just talked, staring at all that lay before us.
The view is great and the hike is fun, but the end is killer. I didn’t realize how long it would take either, so make sure you have a few hours of time. I think the beginning is for anyone moderately physical, and the end is definitely more difficult.
For every sunrise hike, you have to do a sunset hike.
Horsetooth Mountain, which gets it characteristic name from the rock formation looking like horse teeth, is a symbol of Fort Collins. I look out my window every day and see it, I’m walking around campus and can point it out, or I simply am driving on the highway and know it as a sign of home.
(The sunset hike was supposed to take us to the top of Horsetooth Mountain, but there wasn’t enough time.)
It is about a fifteen minute car ride to the trailhead (the same one as my Horsetooth Falls post). This time, where the trailhead splits off, one way for Horsetooth Falls, the other for Horsetooth Rock, I picked the latter. It starts off with a dirt trail leading you back and forth through an open field, then onto a rocky inclined path. This will get you to the rocky main trail which can well direct you with signs.
From there, its walking through the canopy of trees. It takes about forty-five minutes to get to the more open, top, rocky area. If you’ve ever seen the way the foothills are laid out, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It is wear Horsetooth sits, above the trees and forest area, and where only rock resides. You think the hike is close to over, but its not.
For this particular hike, being still so far from the top gave up little time for pictures and seeing the actual sunset. Instead, we cut our hike short and hauled our bags up a smaller rocky set. This part is actual rock climbing, there are no easy trails to the top of the rock formations, so you must have sturdy shoes and be okay with using all your body weight to get up. It is definitely worth it though, and the smaller climb takes five minutes tops.
Once there, the wind is awful. It drops about 15 degrees, and even in September that felt cold. It was okay for a little while when the sun was there, but once it set it was almost unbearable. The wind adds an element of surprise so just be wary of that and bring a jacket.
This hike can’t be labeled at a specific location, but the views are gorgeous. I would strongly recommend it, or Horsetooth Mountain, itself as a must on the to-do-list. Its what Fort Collins is known for when it comes to hikes. I would say the hike is moderately physical, the end being rock climbing though. Bring a jacket, water bottle, and even a snack as it can get a little long.
The pictures may not due the view justice, but it is completely worth it and definitely one to try.
Arthurs Rock was by far one of my favorite hikes–ever!–in Colorado. It was amazing and there was so much more than I ever thought there could be on a short trail.
The weather was actually pretty warm for the end of October, Halloween to be exact, and the sunshine added a warm touch on the way up. It is about a fifteen to twenty minute drive to the trailhead (where you do have to pay for parking so bring cash!) and you have a couple trail options to take. It is split between a few dirt parking lots, which had plenty of cars, since it is a popular trail. To the east, is flat and laid out miles of trails for bikers or runners. To the west, the trail to Arthurs Rock.
To start, you head straight into the forest, trees covering you ahead so you’re always in shade, and a rocky trail leads you further and further away from the parking lot. You follow this for about a half hour before you come to a clearing. Then, its five minutes in the sun and a great place for a rest if you need one. There isn’t too bad of inclines yet and there has been little altitude change. After that, the hard part comes. The last forty-five minutes to an hour of the hike begins. It is high stepping over rocks, some short switchbacks, and you are embedded within the Coloradan forest. You can sometimes see over the valley you just came from, trees everywhere, and look out over part of Fort Collins.
There is a time when you get to a rocky road. You have a couple trails leading off here but if you continue straight you have a magnificent view through trees looking West and will continue heading up to Arthurs Rock. It seems out of place but it actually is a memorial to a hiker. Its a great place to take a break, read about the remembrance of this hiker, and appreciate nature.
It takes awhile for the rest of the climb, which leaves the road and goes back to a rocky trail. By the top, I had to stop a lot because of the altitude change. The trail isn’t even two miles long but has such a big elevation gain it can wind you. It was pretty tough for me and I was in shape. The very last part is rock-climbing. You are full-fledged hands and feet getting up to the top on the trail. Then, once you have caught your breath and can stand again, you look out and you will be speechless. It is an amazing view from any direction.
My first view, facing South, was of the incredible valley I had just climbed. The sun lit over the trees just perfectly and the view was gorgeous. When I headed to climb some more rocks to face the East, the same experience.
But I still had yet to be on top of Arthurs Rock. It got so windy climbing up, plus having to hold my camera with one hand, I was shaky. But I made it and was in awe. My daredevil friend climbed out on a two foot ledge over a canyon to take the picture (above) of me. It is still one of my favorites and definitely worth climbing out on the rock for. Little does the viewer know, there is a drop-off after that rock, and a fatal one at that.
Arthurs Rock was worth the obstacles getting up. Going down is fast and smooth, since you have gravity to help you out. It was about a two hour hike to the top, then a depending forty-five to 60 minutes on the way down.
I would strongly suggest good hiking boots, comfortable clothing, a jacket for the peak where the wind is ridiculous, water, and even a snack. If you have a camera, BRING IT! You won’t regret it. This hike does take some physicality going up, so be prepared. You can always go a little slower and take your time if you aren’t at your best. There are plenty of cool views and rocks to stop by and there were some other people there as well. It never felt crowded or like a tourist attraction though, so don’t worry.
Arthur’s Rock is one hike you don’t want to miss out on.