Hiking in Poudre Canyon, Colorado

by Anne Reynolds
There are many trails available to hikers in Poudre Canyon.

There are many trails available to hikers in Poudre Canyon.

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Poudre Canyon is named for the Cache la Poudre River, a designated Wild and Scenic River which flows through the canyon. Situated along Highway 14, the canyon is comprised of rugged cliffs, fertile meadows, towering rapids and lodgepole pine forests. The canyon is the only National Heritage Area in Colorado. Wildlife can often be seen in the canyon including bighorn sheep, elk, moose and deer. Poudre Canyon is a hiker's paradise and many trails are available at various locations in the canyon.

Greyrock

Two trails are available to hikers, Greyrock Trail and Greyrock Meadows Trail. Both trails lead to the summit of Greyrock Mountain. Trails are rocky with steep climbs. Either route is a six mile round trip hike. The trail gains 2,000 feet in elevation and is rated a moderate difficulty for hikers. Reaching the summit is a reward in itself, with panoramic views of the northeast plains and mountains in all directions. To reach the trail, drive about nine miles from the east entrance of the canyon at Ted's Place. Park in the south lot, walk across the highway and cross a footbridge to the trailhead. Both bikes and horses are prohibited on the trail. Overnight backpackers are welcome and often camp in the meadow beneath Greyrock Mountain.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake Trail is located 53 miles from Ted's Place at mile marker 69.5. The parking area is on the east side across from Long Draw winter trailhead. The trail gains 1,300 feet in elevation and takes hikers on a five mile one-way trip to the lake. Take precautions against high altitude sickness since the trail begins at 9,482 feet and reaches 11,000 feet on top of the pass. A quarter mile closure area surrounds Blue Lake due to heavy foot traffic. Horses are not allowed on the trail between May 15 and Sept. 15. You can continue hiking to Hang Lake, 440 feet from Blue Lake or to Blue Lake Pass, intersecting with the West Branch Trail.

Roaring Creek

Roaring Creek takes hikers through five miles of wilderness one way and gains 2,300 feet. The trailhead is located 40 miles from Ted's Place at mile marker 82.1. Drive another mile and a half once you reach the Division of Wildlife fish hatchery. The trail follows Roaring Creek, eventually climbing through pine and fir trees. Hikers often bring their fishing poles, hoping to snag native cutthroat trout. This is a good trail to catch glimpses of bighorn sheep and moose. Elkhorn Baldy Road can also be accessed from Roaring Creek Trail.

Mountain Park Campground Trails

Two trails leave from the day use parking area of Mountain Park Campground, located 23.5 miles from Ted's Place. Both the Kreutzer Nature Trail and Mount McConnel trail begin at the trailhead. Kreutzer Nature Trail provides interpretative signs about geology and ecology, as well as animals and plants in the area. Once you reach the Creation of the Poudre River Canyon sign, make a sharp right and continue on the Mt. McConnel trail. Rock benches are located on the upward climb to provide rest to hikers rest. Once you reach the summit, take the primitive trail back to avoid large crowds or return the way you came.

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