Archive for the ‘Cache La Poudre’ Category

Trip Report 31

  • Points:  1
  • Trip dates:  Several trips in 1996 and 1997
  • Wilderness Area:  Cache la Poudre
  • Wilderness Size:  9,258 acres
  • Location:  Northern Colorado
  • Destination:  Little South Fork Cache la Poudre
  • Total Miles:  4-6
  • Duration:  Several day hikes

Cache la Poudre Wilderness

My most embarrassing moment when there was no one there to see it, except maybe a curious moutain lion:  I was standing in a little sandy area next to the river looking at some very fresh-looking mountain lion tracks.  After a few moments leaning over for close examination, I straightened up, and for some reason, completely lost my balance.  Stumbling and bumbling, I fell backwards in spread-eagle fashion splashing right in the middle of a pool in the river.  Good thing it was a hot day.  The cold refreshing water soaked me from head to toe.  I imagined the lion that made those tracks watching me from behind some rock outcropping… If lions could laugh… 

This little wilderness is less than one hour from Fort Collins and maybe 1.5 hours from Denver, yet it has one of the lowest levels of human visitation of all wilderness areas in Colorado.  That’s because there are no trails (except if you count the McConnel, which is really just a tiny loop that barely touches the wilderness area.)  This makes it one of my favorite areas.

About 15 miles of the beautiful Little South Fork of the Cache la Poudre River flows through this wilderness at unusually low elevations for a Colorado Wilderness.  This area is usually snow-free for much of the winter and definitely by mid-spring.  Only the hardiest fishermen (like me) enter it.  I would very much like to hike the entire length of the river through the wilderness one day, which I know will involve multiple stream crossings as the river cuts through its rugged gorge.

I haven’t done the whole thing, but I have hiked up a couple of miles of it.  Before reaching the Little South Fork, though, you have to cross the main branch of the Poudre.  I start at a campground on the far side of the river from the highway, and walk cross-country for about 1.5 miles down the main branch.  In places  this requires scrambling over some big rocks and ledges near the river.  Finally, you reach a wide ponderosa park where the Little South Fork enters the main river. 

From the confluence, the first mile or so is quite a nice little stroll through ponderosas and up and over some big granite rocks.  The stream here is beautiful with deep holes and nice riffles.  The fishing is good, too.

The picture above was found on wilderness.net


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