It was 134 miles and two passes from Stagecoach State Park to our next destination, the Cache la Poudre River Canyon. We didn’t hook up the car since we would be doing high elevation climbing, first 9,200’ Rabbit Ears Pass, and then 10,276’ Cameron Pass. What a beautiful drive it was! The Poudre (pronounced poo-der) is Colorado’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” River. Highway 14, which follows much of the river, is designated a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway between Fort Collins and the town of Walden.
We were hoping to find a site along the river at one of the campgrounds, and first drove through Mountain Park since there were hiking trails there, but all of the river sites were taken. Just a couple miles farther was the smaller Dutch George campground, and we managed to get a pull-off site with the river about 50’ from our door.
There is a short trail along the high, fast flowing river.
Our site had a nice sitting area right next to the river. Being such a narrow canyon all of the campgrounds in this area are close to Hwy 14, but the rushing water was so loud it drowned out most of the traffic noise.
Although I checked the weather forecast a couple days before and saw it would be in the mid 70s, it ended up being in the low 80s, so we waited until around 5 to drive the 2 miles back to Mountain Park campground for a late afternoon hike. There are two trails, a 2 mile nature trail and a 5 mile trail to Mt. McConnell. Since we were just looking to stretch our legs, we headed out on the Kreutzer Nature Trail.
Although there were frequent interpretive signs telling about the trees, plants, animals, river, history and geology, that was the only similarity to any “nature trail” we’ve ever hiked on before. We assumed the trail would follow the river, but from the start it began climbing through the forest full of dead trees from beetle damage and fires.
At least the climb eventually brought us up to views of the mountains and river.
We were having doubts that we were really on a 2 mile loop, as the trail became steeper, very rocky, and had a lot of exposure along the edge of the canyon. At one point I had a minor fear of heights panic attack, but Jim said no way was he turning around, so I got ahold of myself and made it across. We felt a little better when we finally came to a couple of signs and knew we were on the right trail. Going back down was not easy, either.
We were pretty happy to finally see the bridge to the campground since it meant we were almost back to the car. We were out on the trail for an hour and a half so I just knew the sign was incorrect about the mileage, but we both were tracking on our phones and only walked 2.2 miles with 600’ of climbing. It was the most challenging nature trail we’ve ever been on, so be warned. On a positive note it was a great workout with good views.
We had planned to spend the weekend along the river but with the heat and knowledge of what the trails were like (not all that interesting and everything goes up) we decided to leave on Friday morning and head to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, CO, home to a couple of Jim’s favorite breweries, Oskar Blues and Left Hand. Both make excellent beers, and we liked pretty much everything we tried. And Left Hand is right along the St. Vrain Greenway trail, so we were able to stop on our way back from a bike ride. Luckily it’s only about a mile and a half from the fairgrounds so we didn’t have a very long ride back home.
Our dusty site at the fairgrounds was not very scenic but it’s in a great location and only cost $25 for water and electric. They also have a dump station.
A crowded Friday afternoon at Oskar Blues, with live music.
Jim is a big fan of Old Chub, and I really liked the Gubna IPA.
At Left Hand we got a flight of the 4 beers they had on nitro and they were all very good, but our favorite was the Imperial Coffee Milk Stout.
We didn’t take any photos from our bike ride, but it mostly goes along the St. Vrain River and is still closed in places for repairs from a devastating flood in 2013. We were able to detour around and made it to the end for a pleasant 14 mile ride.
Yesterday we drove 12 miles south to Boulder for some shopping at Trader Joe’s and REI, and a walk along the South Boulder Creek trail, starting at the Bobolink trailhead. It’s a nice dirt trail along the creek, and if we come back here we would take the bikes and ride, as there are miles of trails, both paved and dirt that intersect it at various points.
Flashback to the 60s van in the parking lot.
Colorado is so green right now.
This robin was having fun fluffing up his feathers in the middle of the trail.
Lazy Daze friends Ed and Carol live in Longmont, and the other day Ed came over for a nice chat. He has a lot of information on dispersed camping opportunities in CO and elsewhere on his blog. And last evening we sat out and had a drink and good conversation with our neighbors Dave and Sharon and their cute dog Maxi, from Rochester, New York, whom I happened to meet at the farmers market Saturday morning. Today we’re moving a short 33 miles to Golden, where there are more breweries and bike trails.