Cache la Poudre Wilderness

Green trees in Cache la Poudre Wilderness

The Cache la Poudre Wilderness, named for the river that runs at its northern edge, was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1980. This 9,258 acre Wilderness is characterized by steep, rugged terrain along the Cache la Poudre River and the Little South Fork of the Cache la Poudre, Colorado's only designated Wild and Scenic River drainage. Elevation ranges from 6,100 feet to 8,300 feet, and the area is accessible for much of the year.

Use is low and only one trail, the Mount McConnel National Recreation Trail, exists in the wilderness. Travel is accomplished only by scrambling and bushwhacking in stream bottoms, on ridges and along game trails.

This Wilderness is primarily montane in characteristic. Forests of ponderosa and lodgepole pine dominate the landscape, and mule deer, bear, coyote, and mountain lion inhabit the area seasonally.

Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean, and pristine. 

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
  • Motorized equipment, or mechanized transportation is prohibited, including motorcycles, chain saws, bicycles or carts. Wheelchairs are exempt.
  • Group size is limited to 12 people and/or livestock combined.
  • Camping and campfires are prohibited within 200’ feet (or more if posted) of all lakes, streams and trails to protect water quality, sensitive vegetation and to help assure solitude. Thin soils and mountain vegetation are easily damaged by fire and fires scar rocks and soil. Use a stove, a fire pan or an existing fire ring when and where fires are allowed.
  • Certified weed-free forage is required on all public land. Only pelletized or steam-rolled feed grains, or certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch are allowed.
  • Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times for hikers. Equestrian riders must have dogs under voice control.
  • Stock:
    • must not be hobbled, tethered or picketed within 200’ (or more if posted) feet of any lakes, streams or trails. This protects fragile vegetation and keeps lakes and streams clean.
    • are not permitted on the Mount McConnel and the Kruetzer Nature Trails.
  • Dispersed camping ban: all camping, except in developed campgrounds, is banned within one-quarter mile of the Cache la Poudre River.
Closest Towns: Fort Collins, Colorado
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.

General Information

General Notes:

Topo maps

Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.

Buy maps online

National Forest Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.

Go to for additional maps and information.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Know Before You Go

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

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Campgrounds At-A-Glance

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