navigation bar

Cache la Poudre River, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

Filter Plant Run
~ 2.4 Miles

navigation bar River descriptions categorized by state First Aid and general safety information Southwest Paddler on-line store Southwest Paddler Yellow Pages listings Environmental issues and concerns Photos of rivers and surrounding areas Trip reports with photos How to advertise on Southwest Paddler Advertiser Index Internet links to related information and services Southwest Paddler visitor comments General disclaimer Product Reviews Federal and state navigation laws Credits for contributors Web Campfire

SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Filter Plant run is a 2.4 mile section of easy whitewater that is excellent for beginners and novices looking to experience something more exciting than flatwater without the dangers of big water. It is well suited for canoes, kayaks and rafts. With a gradient of 44 fpm and a "long" season of about 4 months, this section offers abundant opportunities for a broad spectrum of paddlers. The Cache la Poudre is wider and more open in the Filter Plant area, with flat, grassy banks near gently sloping foothills.

If there is one place along the Cache la Poudre River where a capsized boater could swim without being pummeled by boulders and raging currrents, then that place is the Filter Plant run. To be sure, the water is still cold, but getting out of it is a whole lot easier. More hospitable banks and greater solar exposure to help the warming process will be greatly appreciated by all who swim here. It is imporant that boaters recognize and access the take-out at Picnic Rock Access so as to avoid going over the diversion dam a short distance downriver at SH 14 mm 120.4, less than 1.5 miles below the take-out.


Larimer County in north central Colorado, near the Wyoming border. Nearby streams include the North Platte, Yampa, Colorado and Arkansas Rivers, with many feeder streams in close proximity.

Distance from major cities

Fort Collins 40 miles; Durango 441 miles; Grand Junction 347 miles; Denver 102 miles; Santa Fe 457 miles; Albuquerque 457 miles; Phoenix 895 miles; Oklahoma City 727 miles; Tulsa 832 miles; Dallas 936 miles; Austin 1,126 miles; San Antonio 1,206 miles; Houston 1,182 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Clean, clear and cold, but not drinkable without purification. This section is rated Class II at stages below 2.5 feet (470 cfs), Class III at 2.5 to 4.0 feet (470 - 1,300 cfs) and Class III+ at stages above 4.0 feet.

Best time to go

May through August, depending upon winter snowpack and summer rains, is usually the time when this section of the Poudre River is navigable. The season may be shortened or extended by local weather conditions.

Hazards to navigation

There are no significant hazards along this section of the Poudre River. However, there is a dangerous diversion dam less than 1.5 miles below the Picnic Rock Access that serves as the take-out for this section. Be sure that you know, recognize and access this take-out. Do NOT run the diversion dam, either intentionally or accidentally!

River Access Points

Put in at the Filter Plant Access at 0.0 miles ( SH 14 mm 116.4); Take out at the Picnic Rock Access at 2.4 miles (SH 14 mm 119.0).

Campgrounds and accommodations

The U.S. Forest Service operates 7 campgrounds addjacent to this section of the Cache la Poudre River. Starting with the closest, these are Ansel Watrous Campground, off SH 14 just below Mishawaka Inn and Falls (SH 14 mm 108.1); Stove Prairie Campground between Steven's Gulch Access off SH 14 at mm 104.7 and Split Rock Rapid at SH mm 106.4; Narrows Campground between Century Park Access at SH 14 mm 100.0 and Narrows Picnic Ground at SH 14 mm 101.9; Dutch George Flats Campground between Century Park Access at SH 14 mm 100.0; Mountain Park Campground near Mountain Park Rapid at about SH 14 mm 98.0; Kelly Flats Campground below 63E Road off SH 14; and Jack's Gulch Campground off Pingree Park Road from SH 14 near Grandpa's Bridge. All campgrounds are on river right. There may be other primitive campsites to be found along this section of the Cache la Poudre River.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

Several local and regional outfitters may offer rentals, shuttles and other services for the Cache la Poudre River.

Reviewer's comments

The Cache la Poudre River got its name for a French trading expedition in the 1800's that was caught in a snowstorm and had to lighten their load to make it out of Poudre Valley. They dug a deep hole in the ground and buried all excess supplies, including stores of gunpowder for later retrieval, which they did. To mark the spot where the supplies were hidden, the French named the river in a loosely translated "Hiding place of the powder". The Poudre River is a long-established trade route of Native American nations. It is a scenic river valley amid the majestic Rocky Mountains, flowing through Fort Collins and almost to Greeley.

Because the water is cold, wearing wetsuits or drysuits is advisable for most paddlers. The Poudre River would not be a good place to become hypothermic. Ear plugs would be advisable to keep the cold water out of your ear canals, a situation that can lead to serious aural complications from repeated and prolonged exposure. Canoes should not challenge this section of the Poudre except when properly outfitted for heavy whitewater and paddled by advanced to expert paddlers who have the training and skills necessary to survive the run. Swiftwater rescue skills would be advisable for all paddlers running the Cache la Poudre River. Be sure to take along a water-proof camera and lots of film for this very scenic run.

Technical Data
Class Rating II to III+
Length 2.4 miles
Min. Stage ~ 2.0 feet
Opt. Stage 2.5 to 4.0 feet
Max. Stage ~ 5.0 feet
First Put-in Filter Plant Access
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out Picnic Rock Access
Lat. / Long.
Elevation 5,355 to 5,250 msl
Gradient 44 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: 06752260 (Fort Collins)
Boats Canoes w/ flotation, Kayaks, Rafts
Season May through August
Permits No

Poudre Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club

Click HERE to visit the web site of Rocky Mountain Canoe Club

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Cache la Poudre River where you want to paddle.

[ Cache la Poudre Homepage ] [ Upper and Lower Rustic ] [ The Narrows ] [ Upper Mishawaka to The Bridges ]

Southwest Paddler
Click to return to the Southwest Paddler Homepage
Home Page
Southwest Paddler

Colorado Rivers Index
Canoeman River

Guide Services
Return to the homepage
Home Page

CobraGraphics - Web Designs with a Bite!

Send E-mail This web page designed, created and maintained by
Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics
© February 15, 2003. All rights reserved.
Last updated September 11, 2014

Copyright © 1998-2014, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.