Fun for the Whole Family in Lory State Park

Like much of the population of Northern Colorado, my family is a multisport unit. Not particularly good at, or serious about, any of them, but we do engage in a multitude of activities: soccer, cycling, roller skating, fishing, pickleball — anything with a low cost of entry and easy access.

Like many active families, our multisport lifestyle relies heavily on a balance between adventure and convenience. It works for us. Our family consists of me and my wife, both in our early 40’s, and a girl and boy, age eight and five, respectively. We like to do things that are physically demanding for the adults, but fun for the kids, too. Often it’s best to split up the family by activity.  Taking all this into account, we spend a lot of time together in Lory State Park. 

On any given weekend morning, with our annual Colorado State Park pass stickered to the windshield, we drive up to Lory from our home in Fort Collins, usually arriving early enough to get our choice of spots in the Soldier Canyon parking lot. We pull in near the bike corral and move right into action. My wife immediately heads out to run the trails. She is usually out 60 to 90 minutes, running the Valley Trails and sometimes adding a little romp up Timber. After so many miles in the park, she knows where she’s going and appreciates the challenge, the beauty and the solitude that Lory offers.

Meanwhile, I unload with the kids. Taking our bikes, we immediately hit the dirt jumps, obstacles and other features in the mountain bike skills park. It’s pretty well maintained and my kids discover new lines all the time. A few minutes on the pump track and riding some rock features is a great challenge for anyone on a mountain bike; and good exercise, if you’re doing it right.

After warm up time in the skills park, the kids and I head down the East Valley Trail. This trail, in particular, is fun for the whole family. Nothing too crazy, or too long, and it feels like a real mountain bike ride. Some ups and downs, rocks and roots with a few fast sections to open it up. The kids can work on their riding skills, and we have a pretty good time together. We’ll do a mile or two heading south and then turn around. To keep the fun going, we generally head back to the cove closest to Soldier Canyon where my wife will eventually meet up with us. The kids splash in the water, run around on the sand and rocks, and we just enjoy exploring the shoreline. There are so many different things to experience where the water meets the land. Lory has a lot of shoreline access to wander, and adding it in as part of a larger day is a great way to have more than one adventure in a single outing. 

When my wife gets back, she takes over at the shore. Sometimes we bring a picnic, sometimes they go back to the skills park to keep riding. Either way, I head out for a bigger ride, with time to myself to hit Lory’s longer and more challenging trails. If I am feeling ambitious, I head to the top and ride down Howard. Or, maybe, just a few laps in the South Valley. The new Hucka-Yucka segment, off of Shoreline Trail, is the best eighth of a mile of mountain bike trail I’ve ridden in a long time. By now, my wife and kids have gotten back in the car and are headed home. I am still out riding and when I’m done, I will ride my bicycle home: down the big hill into Bellvue where I catch the Poudre Trail back to Fort Collins. Pretty quick and easy. 

Lory State Park is convenient and everyone in my family will have had a great day full of adventure and excitement. The kids will be pretty tired, too. We’re lucky to have such a large and beautiful State Park in our backyard. We try to enjoy Lory as much as we can, whether together, individually or some variation of the two. The park accommodates our interests and offers many new challenges as well. In terms of playing outside, it doesn’t get much better than Lory State Park. 

Words and Photos by Michael Bussmann