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Cache la Poudre River, Colorado

maps | mileage | flow | books | paddling: 2003 | 2004 | 2005

5/08/2004: Timnath. River flow was ~300cfs above Timnath while in the canyon above Fort Collins was ~800cfs making whitewater folks happy. I checked the river near Windsor along Poudre River Trail - it was flowing but it was more suitable for polling than paddling. I decided to launch under bridge of county road 5 (south of Harmony Road), just downstream of Swetsville Zoo. My last year launching spot at the end of Horsetooth Road may be not convenient any more since some closed to public areas were added along the river in Arapaho Bend Natural Area.

I paddled about 2.3 miles upstream all way to the railroad bridge above Strauss Cabin. Current was strong and twisty with some small rapids. I had to walk through two places with especially strong current (one was just above Harmony Rd bridge). However, my moving average speed for upstream paddling was quite good: 2.5 mph. A small river provides a lot of opportunities to paddle in slow current close to shores or to use eddies. After paddling back I explored the river below my launching place.

Poudre River - upstream of Harmony Rd Poudre River - upstream of railroad bridge

There were no fallen trees or another obstacles in water in that river segment. Some tight turnings and narrow channels could cause problems. Potential hazards: a big eddy under southband I-25 bridge, the railroad bridge above Strauss Cabin with tendency to be jammed by logs and junk, a barb wire fence across the river about 0.25 below county road 5 (my launching place).

Wildlife (in addition to regular water birds): whitetail deer, a couple of young owls (very cute twins).

Poudre River - downstream of railroad bridge Poudre River - above Harmony Rd Poudre River - downstream of county rd 5

GPS trip odometer: 6.4 miles, moving time 1:44 h stopped (shooting) time: 0:34 h, moving average 3.7 mph (2.5 mph upstream), max speed 9.2 mph. Prospect-Timnath map

5/09/2004: Fort Collins. River flow was slightly below ~300cfs above Timnath. This time I started at the end of Horsetooth Road and paddled about 2.2 miles upstream to Environmental Learning Center (ELC) taking a wider left river arm. I portaged under the railroad bridge above Strauss Cabin and then one more time over a rapid. Then, I paddled back downriver without any problems and made a few short upstream/downstream runs around my launching spot. At sunset, I saw twice the same beaver crossing the river.

Hazards: railroad bridge partially blocked by logs with very narrow passage, a strainer (big tree with hanging branches) covering almost the entire width of the river (passages on left or right) above Archery Range. Perhaps, Archery Range should also be considered a hazard since I saw a couple of arrows in water.

GPS trip odometer: 6.1 miles, moving time 1:43 h stopped time: 0:23 h, moving average 3.5 mph max speed 9.5 mph. Prospect-Timnath map

Poudre River - Environmental Learning Center Poudre River - Environmental Learning Center

5/11/2004: Fort Collins. A short morning trip starting at the end of Horsetooth Road with the river flow slightly below 300cfs above Timnath. This time I tried to shoot video with a camera mounted on the kayak bow. It worked pretty well for paddling upstream. However, I didn't get any good shots when going downriver since the camera took too many splashes in waves.

download movie
(16Mb for Windows Media Player)

Poudre River

5/19/2004: Fort Collins. An evening paddle starting at the end of Horsetooth Road. The river flow ~400cfs above Timnath was ideal for my paddling.

I started to paddle upstream, portaged a small rapid under the railroad bridge and continued to to Environmental Learning Center. I turned left into a narrow, twisty and fast river channel, portaged over a log jam, paddled under a swinging bridge, and turned around at a diversion dam (Fossil Creek Reservoir inlet). I portaged again over a dam to the left river leg (one of narrow channels) and enjoyed for a while calm backwaters of ELC, closed my loop and paddled full speed downriver to the start.

Poudre River
a little rapid under the railroad bridge
Poudre River
log jam (portage left)
Poudre River - Environmental Learning Center
one of a few narrow channels below the dam upstream of ELC

GPS trip odometer: 4.8 miles, moving time 1:27 h stopped time: 0:34 h, moving average 3.3 mph max speed 9.7 mph. Prospect-Timnath map

5/22/2004: Fort Collins - Timnath. It was a late morning downriver trip with the flow increasing from 250 to 400 cfs. I started under Lemay Street bridge in Fort Collins (convenient launching with access from a bike trail, but no public parking near the bridge, parking for patients only) and paddled downstream all way to Timnath (county road 5 bridge).

I had four short portages: a diversion dam below Lemay bridge, next two diversion dams between Prospect bridge and ELC, and finally, a familiar logjam below ELC. There were no other significant hazards above ELC, just a few small rapids and sharp turnings. Weather was pretty cool with a few showers, so I didn't shoot too many pictures. The aqueduct pictures were shot two day ealier during my bike ride along the Poudre.

GPS trip odometer: 8.14 miles, moving time 1:19 h stopped time: 0:25 h, moving average 6.1 mph. Shields-Prospect map | Prospect-Timnath map

Poudre River - aqueduct
an old aqueduct crossing the river
between Lemay and Timberline bridges
Poudre River - aqueduct
Poudre River - Environmental Learning Center Poudre River - Environmental Learning Center
Poudre River (right arm) below logjam near ELC

6/12/2004: Fort Collins. A short morning paddle starting at Strauss Cabin and paddling to Environmental Learning Center into left river arm and back downriver.

GPS trip odometer: dead battery

6/19/2004: Lemay Street - Timnath. Flow ~350cfs at Fort Collins and ~300 cfs above Timnath. A donwriver trip with a partner in a inflatable kayak, so I had some extra time to paddle around in my Nucleus.

GPS trip odometer: 9.45 miles, moving time 1:54 h stopped time: 0:18 h, moving average 4.9 mph, max speed 10.7 mph.

6/21/2004: Fort Collins. A nice evening paddle with a good workout starting above College Avenue (river access from Cherry Street just above a railroad bridge) and paddling upstream: a portage over Lake Canal Dam near Legacy Park, another portage over a rapid below Shields Street and again over Josh Ames Ditch Dam above Shields. I turned around halfway between Shields and Taft Hill and paddled downriver. A spectacular sunset! Flow ~ 350cfs.

GPS trip odometer: 3.73 miles, moving time 1:14 h stopped time: 0:29 h, moving average 3.0 mph, max speed 10.2 mph.

Poudre River Poudre River
Josh Ames Ditch Dam and a rapid below Shields Street
Poudre River - Harmony Mill Poudre River - Elevator
Harmony Mill and Elevator at sunset viewed from Lincoln Street Bridge

6/27/2004: Shield Street - Prospect Street. A downriver evening trip over the river stretch of Poudre Paddlers Club "town run". I was not confident enough in my tippy kayak to run a boat chute below College Avenue so I had to portage all three dams. Somewhere below Lemay, I had a very close encounter with a beaver crossing the river. It dived just inches from my bow.

GPS trip odometer: 5.50 miles, moving time 53:02 h stopped time: 0:14 h, moving average 6.2 mph, max speed 10.6 mph. Flow ~300cfs.

6/28/2004: above Fort Collins. It was an attempt to epxlore the river above Fort Collins starting upstream paddling at Shields Street. My goal was to reach Lion Park in Laporte at Overland Trail. I portaged three diversion dams and one or two rapids between Shields and Taft Hill and soon run into another obstacle: gravel transportation across the river. The Poudre was squized through eight pipes under a temporary road with a band conveyer. Despite of gravel pits around the river was quite scenic with a lot of trees along banks and plenty of birds. Unfortunately, about 0.5 miles before Overland Trail the river got just too shallow to paddle upstream without breaking my wing paddle. So, I turned around and paddled downriver doing all four portages again.

GPS trip odometer: 5.57 miles, moving time 1:54 h stopped time: 0:40 h, moving average 2.9 mph, max speed 9.8 mph. Flow ~275cfs

Poudre River Poudre River
Larimer & Weld Canal Dam gravel transport across the river
Poudre River Poudre River
0.5 mile below Overland Trail. The river was getting fast and shallow ...
Poudre River Poudre River
Ft. Collins Irrigation Ditch Dam
just below Taft Hill
Sunset over Foothills seen from
a launching spot above Shields

7/11/2004: Poudre Bike Trail..

A bike trip along the Poudre with a camera ready for shooting.

Coy Boat Shoot below College Avenue >>

Coy Boat Shoot

7/17/2004: above Fort Collins. Poudre River was quite low with erratic flow in Fort Collins during the previous couple of weeks. Suddenly, more water appeared peaking at almost 500cfs around noon. I went paddling about 6 pm and found the flow around 250cfs and dropping down. I launched above College Avenue and paddled upstream. I portaged Lake Canal Dam, a rapid below Shields Street, and finaly Josh Ames Ditch Dam. Some rapids were a little bit too shallow for upstream paddling. After playing a little bit in a pond above the last dam I paddled downriver with a few stops for shooting pictures and checking McMurray Pond.
Poudre River

GPS trip odometer:
4.3 miles, moving time 1:25 h
stopped time: 0:40 h
moving average 3.0 mph
max speed 9.4 mph.
Flow ~240cfs and dropping down.

above Josh Ames Ditch Dam
(upstream of Shields)
Poudre River - rapid McMurray Pond
small rapid below Shields Street near
McMurry Pond (there is narrow
but clean channel on left)
McMurry Pond is quite overgrown
Poudre River Poudre River
below Lake Canal Dam

10/15/2004: Strauss Cabin double loop. A big surprise in October: Poudre was flowing. It seemed that about 500 cfs was going from Horsetooth Reservoir through Hansen Supply Canal to the Poudre River above Fort Collins and then all the way down the river to South Platte River. More than 400cfs was taken from South Platte to Riverside Reservoir.
It was a chilly Friday afternoon with ocassional rain and drizzle. I launched my Sisson kayak at the east end Horsetooth Road near Strauss Cabin, started to paddle upstream, portaged a rapid under railroad bridge and stopped for a while to shoot some pictures at the strainer above archery range. I was able to paddle through all fast river segments without special problems.

I turned right into the left river arm and paddled around Environmental Learning Center until I was stopped by a strong current below a rock dam. I portaged the dam along right shore and started to run downstream the narrow and twisty right arm of the river. I had another photo session when portaging a logjam and soon closed my loop around ELC (see Prospect-Timnath map.

Strauss Cabin
I paddled downriver to I-25 bridge then turned upstream but before reaching my launching spot I landed on right river shore and portages across a trail to one of the ponds in Arapaho Bend Natural Area. The pond was connected to a smaller one through a narrow passage. I relocated some rocks to make a channel deep enough for a kayak. Paddling through the smaller pond I landed about 200 yards from my car and closed a second smaller loop (see map above). I often visit Arapaho Bend Natural Area to paddle the largest Beaver Pond.
Poudre River

GPS trip odometer:
6.8 miles, moving time 1:57 h
stopped/shooting time: 1:14 h
moving average 3.5 mph
max speed 10.3 mph.
Flow at Ft. Collins ~550cfs, at Timnath: ~320cfs.

Poudre River Poudre River Poudre River
rock dam
above ELC
below a logjam
Poudre River Poudre River Poudre River
at the logjam
a larger pond
a passage between ponds
A supplement to my paddling trip: two pictures shot the following day from a bike trail (boat chute and the river below Lemay Street). Poudre River Poudre River

10/20/2004: Windsor-New Cache. I launched under a bridge of the busy 392 highway, a few miles west of Windsor and paddled upstream. The river was quite challenging with a fast and twisty current. Fallen trees above 32E road required portage. After a couple of miles I reached New Cache Dam. It is a new dam with gates, high fences around it, and a smaller drop below it. The gate was open and it would be possible to run through it at that water level. However portage would be difficult, so I turned around. Below the dam there is an old bridge shown on some maps, but there is no public access.

I paddled downriver, passed my starting point, then 901 road. There is a bike trail parking on the right and another parking on the left shore for a small fishing lake. The bike trail goes only a mile or so downriver. A better place (left shore) to launch than the highway 392 It was a nice part of the river with a lot cottonwood trees. A quater mile below the bridge I was stopped by fallen tree. I didn't portage downriver since I was very close to two irrigation dams. You can see them from the bike trail. I turned arround and paddled upstream to my starting point.

Poudre River Poudre River Poudre River
Poudre River Poudre River

GPS trip odometer:
7.2 miles, moving time 2:08 h
stopped/shooting time: 0:39 h
moving average 3.3 mph
max speed 10.3 mph.
Flow at Timnath ~300cfs, below New Cache Dam: ~350cfs.
map: Timnath-Windsor

10/23/2004: Windsor. Another exploration of the Poudre River near Windsor starting from the 257 highway bridge. I parked right at the bridge (NW corner) since a parking for Poudre River Trail is quite away from the river.

I paddled upstream along a golf course and Eastman Park. There were nice long stretches of slow water, so upstream paddling was much faster then in my previous trip. There were also some spots were the river splitted into narrow, fast and twisty channels. It was some challenge to make those turns against strong current when going upstream. I turned around after 5 miles at a diversion dam and returned downriver to the start.

It is a nice segment of the Poudre River with a few obstacles but no portages. There are a couple of strainers but easy to avoid. The only more serious hazard is a railroad bridge just above the 257 road with a strong cross currents and a lot of junk blocking a passage. The Eastman Park provides some additional access points to the river.

Poudre River

GPS trip odometer:
9.9 miles, moving time 2:29 h
stopped/shooting time: 0:34 h
moving average 4.0 mph
max speed 9.4 mph.

Flow: Ft Collins 256cfs, above Timnath 113cfs, below New Cache ~265cfs.

maps: Timnath-Windsor

Poudre River Poudre River Poudre River

10/30/2004: Fort Collins-Greeley. A chilly morning with a freezing temperature, most of gold fall colors were gone but the Poudre was flowing a lot of water. Thanks to Connie I could enjoy a long downriver run without my regular upstream workout.

I started in Fort Collins at the end of Horsetooth Road and reached the river through the chain of ponds of Arapaho Bend Natural Area (see my 10/15/04 trip). Below Timnath I entered the unknown segment of the river. Unfortunately, that entry required a portage over or rather through a barbed wire fence. Within the next mile I had to portage over next 3 fences. The river was not paddler friendly there. Just above New Cache Dam a lot of water was coming from Boxelder Ditch and Fossil Creek Reservor outlet. I played safe at the dam and portaged over the concrete structure (it was possible to land at right).

Next, I paddled down the already familiar river with one portage around a fallen tree and retour around another tree above 32E road. A fallen tree below 901 road in Windsor required another short portage followed by a longer portage over two diversion dams (left shore). Then, there was a nice river segment along Eastman Park and a golf course with several small trail bridges until the 257 road bridge. I managed to maintain speed well above 7 mph trying to make up time lost for portages.

Poudre River

GPS trip odometer:
20.4 miles, moving time 3:35 h
stopped/shooting time: 1:39 h
moving average 5.7 mph
max speed 10.3 mph.

Flow: Ft Collins 550cfs, above Timnath ~350cfs, below New Cache Dam: ~450cfs, near Greeley 430cfs

maps: Timnath-Windsor Windsor-Greeley

Poudre River Poudre River Poudre River
After a lunch break I continued down the river which had more longer calm stretches. About one mile downriver there was a small narrow tunnel like bridge with a low clearance and a rapid at high water. Since the river was getting narrow and fast above that bridge it was difficult to stop for scoutting. Further downriver there were some nice spots, especially, when the river was flowing closer to high hills (Poudre Bluffs?) forming steep cliffs, but in general the river was less scenic than around Windsor.

I could see many bicyclists. Poudre River Trail followed the river from the 257 highway on the left shore then above a diversion dam it crossed the river and run on the right shore. The river got somewhat smaller below the dam. It was my 9th and the last portage: from a ditch back to the river.

In about half mile I run into an unpleasant surprize: a barbed wire fence again. No possibility to portage it on any of the shores. The only option was to squize my tippy kayak and myself between two wires in a moderately fast current. There were some barbed wires in the next road bridge (road 25/95th Street) but the middle was free although partially blocked by logs. I finished my run one bridge further (road 27/83rd Street) about 16 miles above confluence with South Platte River.

Roads east of Greeley are marked on maps as county roads (e.g., Co Rd 27) but when driving it easier to find them numbered as streets. The Poudre River Trail map seems to be quite out dated. There are new sections of a bike trail opened. However, we haven't found Poudre Learning Center marked on the map.

maps | mileage | flow | books | paddling: 2003 | 2004 | 2005

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