Poudre Canyon Run

26.2 miles 1800 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Jason Leach

Need a new training destination? A beautiful place to run and see some fall foliage? Poudre Canyon is your ticket to a training destination away without being so far away!

Stretching 126 miles from its source in the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Cache La Poudre (pronounced: Poo-ter) river provides host to an entire treasure trove of outdoor recreational activities. From Fly Fishing and rafting to camping and photography. 

Carved away by thousands of years of flowing water, Poudre Canyon itself spans 40 miles from end to end (Fort Collins to North Park) and is accessible for its entire length via County Route 14.

I was made aware of this running option when I was asked to come shoot some photos of runners early in the fall (the photo's you see above). I have since gone back having gotten bored with similar running spots near Denver (I live north of Denver) but not wanting to venture too far away,and done long runs in Poudre Canyon. I have yet to be disappointed!

The Run Route:

I would recommend two cars, one to leave at the start and the other at the finish. But you can easily do an out and back as well with one car.

WARNING- the shoulders can get narrow in places so please be safe and aware that some drivers like to race the canyon a bit.

This run is a Point-to-Point run. To run the 26.2 miles drop a car at Picnic Rock Natural Area. Then load up in the other car and drive to Dadd Gulch Rest Area approximately 0.8mi past Mile Post 94, if you are looking for it on Google Maps this address should work: 28961 Poudre Canyon Rd.

Start your run from Dadd Gulch Parking Lot, turn left and run back to Picnic Rock Natural Area, which is exactly 26.2 miles away.

You will wind your way in an out of steep canyon walls, cross over the Poudre River at times, run along it at others. You will got from very hot in the open sunny areas (which depends on the time of day you run), to chilly in the shaded areas of the canyon, be prepared for this.

At approximately 13 miles from Dadd Gulch (Halfway!) you will pass Stove Prairie Landing, which can be a great place to store water refills, drop another car if you'd like to shorten your run, or turn around and head back if you are doing an out and back run.

At Mile Post 107 you will pass under a rock tunnel carved out of the canyon wall. About half a mile after this you will pass the Mishawaka Historic Indoor & Outdoor Concert Space. Be mindful as this is a even tighter section of the road (the tunnel especially), and make a note to go check out an event at Mishawaka!

After the tunnel the road will keep the river on your left hand side until you are closer to Picnic Rock. With less than 1.5 miles left you will pass back over the river again to finish your run at Picnic Rock. Once you finish depending on how you feel, I recommend taking a seat in the river and just enjoy the cool water, or in the right season a downright ice bath!

Throughout the run you will drop 1800ft of elevation as you descend to Picnic Rock.

This is just one of the myriad of options for runs in Poudre Canyon. I encourage you to explore other options as well, including the trail running. I would recommend wearing orange if you run there in the fall as the few times I have travelled there I have also seen plenty of hunters.

If you are not into running there is a variety of places to camp, fish, hike, bike, horseback ride, rock climb, hunt, or just chill. Truthfully in the Fall season, it is worth simply driving the canyon itself. It truly is a nice little gem not to far from Denver and right outside of Fort Collins!

Map with Mile Posts:

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Photography
Running
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥇Top Contributor

4 months ago

Gorgeous, right along the river

My parents lived out in Fort Collins for years, and every time I visited, we had to hit Poudre Canyon. It’s a beautiful drive winding along the river, and the trails are stunning. If you can, try and go towards the end of September when leaves are in full color.

🥇Top Contributor

5 months ago

shade

Stays cool in this canyon late into the morning and early in the afternoon - great for runs

Good

Good

Stay Nearby

Livermore, Colorado

Mountain Park

Overview Mountain Park Campground is located on the Cache la Poudre River, 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., along Highway 14. Visitors enjoy the area for its great rafting, fishing and hi...

Bellvue, Colorado

Jacks Gulch

Overview Jacks Gulch Recreation Area is located 48 miles northwest of Fort Collins, in northern Colorado. Visitors enjoy the area for its great hiking, biking and horseback riding opportunities.Rec...

Livermore, Colorado

Narrows (Co)

Overview Narrows Campground is located on the Cache la Poudre River, 32 miles northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado, along Highway 14. Visitors enjoy the area for its great rafting, fishing and hikin...

Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Bellaire Lake Campground

Overview Bellaire Campground is located 47 miles northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., near the Red Feather Lakes village. Visitors enjoy the area for its canoeing, fishing and trail opportunities.Recr...

Nearby Adventures

  • Camp near Lost Lake (in the Red Feather Lakes area)

    I need to start by saying I stayed here on Memorial Day weekend, a very busy camping weekend in Colorado. Online searches for a suitable campsite were useless, everything was booked. It is hard to drive 2 plus hours to an area and hope you find a ...

  • Hike to Comanche Lake in Pingree Park

    You start out hiking through the average Colorado forest for the first 4 miles of the 7-8 mile trip at about 6,500 feet. The trail is largely downhill for the first couple miles until it levels out and you are headed North. A little more than half...

    8 miles 700 ft gain

  • Trail Run the Hewlett Gulch Trail

    Hewlett Gulch Trailhead is located about 20 minutes from Fort Collins and offers easy hiking in the Poudre Canyon.From Fort Collins, take 287 to Ted's Place. Take a left onto CO 14 and follow 14 through the canyon just past Poudre Park where you s...

    8.5 miles 800 ft gain

  • Climb Greyrock Mountain

    The main trail begins at the Cache La Poudre river on the Poudre Canyon Highway about 30 minutes from Fort Collins. After about .75 miles the trail splits. To go left on Greyrock Meadows trail adds 2 miles to your trip and provides excellent views...

    7.1 miles 3000 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More