springtime view in the Buckhorn Valley

Nestled in the foothills west of Loveland and Ft. Collins is the beautiful Buckhorn Valley. Known by most Larimer County residents as a scenic shortcut to Estes Park and Poudre Canyon, it is a popular weekend bicycle route, or a perfect area for a Sunday drive. The peaceful beauty of the Buckhorn Valley is always on display, no matter the season. Spring rains bring an emerald green tint to the entire valley. The fresh green of spring slowly gives way to the cool, deep green of summer crops on the valley floor while Ponderosa and olive green brush climb the hillsides and ridges to touch azure skies. Autumn in the valley brings striking brilliance and contrast by adding gold and red to the earthy palette of landscape colors. Winter dormancy is a quiet season of frosty mornings and occasional snows that encrust every feature of the valley in a white of remarkable purity.

Buckhorn Valley in winter

In addition to its natural beauty, the Buckhorn Valley has a colorful, old-west history. Homesteaders came into the valley in the later 1800's establishing homes and ranching operations. Family names like Chance, Carter, Milner, and Wild that are mentioned in the valley today are descendants of these early settlers. Using water from Buckhorn Creek for irrigation, farming became an additional part of these settlers' livelihood before the turn of the century.

In the early 1900's demand for sandstone paving in Denver and other growing cities stimulated the establishment of quarries to mine the high quality stone that underlies the hogback on the west side of the valley. At one point, a rail line remains of the Buckhorn Valley railroad to the quarries was established to haul away the rock they produced and extended as far north as Arkins Park. Remnants of the stone pilasters that supported an old rail trestle are still in evidence on the hogback cut on the Trupp farm. A few quarries still produce stone for landscaping and masonry.

Buckhorn Valley cherry orchard

Cherry orchards became a major part of the valley's agricultural production in the 1940's, 50's, and 60's. The mild climate and protection of the valley is a great environment for fruit production. Shifting economic conditions put the cherry business in decline to the point that only a few small orchards remain and none are commercially managed.

Aerial view of Buckhorn Valley

Today the valley is home to small farms and acreages. They provide a pleasant backdrop for the residents who are attracted to the valley for its peaceful atmosphere, mild climate, and unhurried pace. The same climate that was friendly to cherry trees is an attraction to the residents. Summer temperatures are consistently cooler in the valley than in Loveland/Ft. Collins because of higher altitude and the ongoing plant transpiration. Winter temperatures tend to be warmer because the valley is above the cold sink of the river bottoms and there is less air pollution to block the warming sun. There is typically less wind in the Buckhorn Valley than on the plains to the east due to the protection of the foothills and ridges.

Masonville Church Masonville Store

Though sparsely populated, the Buckhorn Valley has always engendered a sense of community. The town of Masonville was established in the 1890's at the crossroads of what is now County Road 27 and 38E. Though established with high hopes of being a trade center, circumstances never materialized to make that happen. Two quaint stores, a Post Office, Buckhorn Presbyterian Church, and some residences serve as the center of community activity and exchange. The Big Thompson Grade School, at the intersection of County Road 27 and Highway 34, is also a community center and enjoys a high degree of parental and community involvement. The annual Chili Supper and Spring Carnival are well attended and raise money for extra supplies and equipment for "Big T" school programs. The Buckhorn Picnic is held each June drawing local and former residents for a time of connecting and reminiscing and welcoming new residents.

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