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site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Colorado River Trips  :: Cache La Poudre River Colorado

Kayaking & Canoeing Cache La Poudre River Colorado

Spencer Heights
Put-in:  CO Hwy 14 bridge at Big South Campground
Take-out:  Tunnel Picnic Area
Difficulty:  Class V, portage
Length:  2.4 miles
Big South Tributary
 photos of Big South Tributary
Put-in:  Long Draw Reservoir
Take-out:  Hwy 14 - Big South Campground
Difficulty:  Class IV-, V+
Length:  11.6 miles
Sleeping Elephant
Put-in:  CO Hwy 14 across from Sleeping Elephant Campground
Take-out:  Big Bend Picnic Area
Difficulty:  Class II+, III
Length:  5.0 miles
Fish Hatchery
Put-in:  Big Bend Picnic Area
Take-out:  Home Moraine Trailer Park
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  2.5 miles
White Mile Run
Put-in:  Home Moraine Trailer Park
Take-out:  Indian Meadows Picnic Ground
Difficulty:  Class III to IV
Length:  9.5 miles
Grandpa's Gorge
Put-in:  Indian Meadows Low Bridge
Take-out:  Narrows Picnic Area and Campground
Difficulty:  Class III-IV
Length:  8 miles
The Narrows
Put-in:  Narrows Campground
Take-out:  Steven's Gulch
Difficulty:  Class IV-V+
Length:  3.4 miles
Upper Mishawaka
 photos of Upper Mishawaka
Put-in:  Steven's Gulch
Take-out:  Mishawaka Inn
Difficulty:  Class III-IV
Length:  3.5 miles
Lower Mishawaka
 photos of Lower Mishawaka
Put-in:  Mishawaka Inn
Take-out:  Poudre Park Picnic Area
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  3.2 miles
Poudre Park
 photos of Poudre Park
Put-in:  Poudre Park Picnic Ground
Take-out:  Poison Ivy Corner
Difficulty:  Class IV
Length:  2.8 miles
 photos of Bridges
Put-in:  Bridges Put In
Take-out:  Bridges Take Out
Difficulty:  Class III+
Length:  2 miles
Filter Plant
 photos of Filter Plant
Put-in:  Filter Plant
Take-out:  Picnic Rock
Difficulty:  Class II-III
Length:  3 miles
The Wild and Scenic Cache La Poudre River
31 miles of the Cache La Poudre River were designated as wild and scenic on October 30th, 1986. A Wild and Scenic River is an entire river, or portion of one, that is protected from detrimental development, degradation of water quality and destruction of its natural system by water diversions or dams.

However, the Poudre still has quite a network of plumbing, built long before 1986, to regulate the flow of the river. Reservoirs built on tributaries hold a reserve of water for late summer irrigation on the plains. A slew of ditches redirect snowmelt that would normally drain into other river basins back to the Poudre. This system helps the Poudre maintain good flows often into late August.

In fact, water from the Poudre was first diverted for irrigation in 1867, making it the first river in the state to be put to use in this fashion. Today it is argued that water rights for farmlands are actually more valuable than the land itself.

Written by Brad Goettemoeller


The Cache La Poudre is Colorado’s first and only Wild and Scenic River and it is both close to Fort Collins and just an hour’s drive from Denver. Its waters range from Class II to IV rapids making it a great river for those new to boating.

The name of the river means “hide the powder” in French, referring to a group of French trappers who were forced to bury their gunpowder by the river’s edge when they were caught in a snowstorm in the 1820s.

Kayakers and rafters will enjoy the diversity of difficulty on this river. The Filter Plant is considered a classic beginner run, especially at low water. The next step for beginning boaters is the Lower Mishawaka, which is pretty straightforward Class III with a few holes and manmade obstacles. The Poudre’s Classic run through is the Upper Mishawaka that has lots of play waves and fun Class IV rapids.