The Cache la Poudre River flows north and east through Roosevelt National Forest, then down the slopes of the Front Range into the city of Fort Collins. Colorado Highway 14, which follows much of the river, is a designated Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway between Fort Collins and the town of Walden and is recognized as one of Colorado’s premier scenic highways. The route features stunning scenery through Poudre Canyon and along the Poudre River, as well as vast forests and high peaks.
As we look forward to warmer temperatures in the summer months, residents of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado will make their way to the Poudre Canyon for a myriad of activities. Whether you’re looking forward to fishing or simply enjoying the sunshine on the river’s banks, here are 10 ways to enjoy the Poudre River and Poudre Canyon:
The Poudre River is known to be abundant with trout and is very popular for fly fishing. The river has two separate sections designated as Wild Trout Waters by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and is known for its caches of rainbow, brown, cutbow, and Greenback cutthroat trout.
2. Lounging on the shoreline
Appreciating the beauty of the Poudre River doesn’t always require a bathing suit. The Poudre may not have sandy shorelines, but it’s as close to a beach as you’ll get in Colorado and makes for a great place to hang out, have a picnic or read a book.
For another more laidback activity, tubing the Poudre is a popular pastime for visitors and Fort Collins locals. The best time to tube is in July and August when the river is calmer but always use your best judgment. If the water is moving fast, it’s best to stay onshore.
4. Swimming and snorkeling
If you take goggles or a mask, you will see schools of trout in the depths of the pool at Picnic Rock, glimpses of glittering pyrite, and a whole world of beauty under the surface of the water. Keep in mind, even on the hottest and sunniest days, the river can still be extremely cold. So grab a wetsuit or make sure you’re only getting in for short periods of time.
5. Whitewater rafting
Rafting is a thrilling option to explore the river, with Class III and IV rapids such as Twin-Pin, Roller Coaster and Mishawaka Falls. There are many rafting companies who provide trained guides, equipment, and tours to maximize the adrenaline junky experience.
Along with whitewater rafting, the Poudre is also popular for kayaking. There are many flatwater sections to choose from for beginners, as well as Class II-III runs for those looking for more excitement.
There are several popular hiking trails in Poudre Canyon ranging in length and difficulty, but all offer beautiful scenery and stunning views. Roaring Creek Trail, for example, traverses 5.1 miles of the Poudre Canyon and is better suited for more experienced hikers, whereas the Hewlett Gulch Trail is a perfect 3.1 mile option for hikers of easy-to-moderate skill levels.
8. Mountain Biking
If you’d rather experience the area’s trails from your mountain bike, Youngs Gulch Trail is an excellent mountain bike ride that is four miles long with over 20 stream crossings.
Make a night of it, and snag a coveted camping spot in the Poudre Canyon so you can wake up to enjoy another day along the river.
10. Visit the Mishawaka Amphitheatre
Also known as “The Mish,” the Mishawaka Amphitheatre is a riverside music venue that is more than 100 years old that has a bar and restaurant open year-round.
No matter how you choose to enjoy the Cache la Poudre, you’re sure to have an amazing time, so start making your plans now to celebrate Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River this summer!