40.5853° N, 105.0844° W
Stretching 40 miles through a rocky, flora-filled mountain landscape, and up over the Continental Divide, Highway 14, better known as the Poudre Canyon, is one of the best areas to do some serious adventuring. Connecting the towns of Fort Collins and Walden, this scenic byway has a lot to offer - from hiking, mountain biking, and camping, to good food and even live music. Spend a day or a weekend exploring this area and you will be amazed at what you find.
\\ The Top Hiking Trails in the Poudre Canyon
LOWER DADD GULCH TRAIL
This trail follows a nice lush stream and an old stock trail up through a gulch for about two miles before leaving the stream and passing through dense forest and a couple small meadows. It eventually meets up with Salt Cabin Road, a forest road in the Pingree Park area. The trail is only 3.6 miles (one-way), though you can keep going on the forest road once at the top. It is great for both hiking and mountain biking.
BLUE LAKE TRAIL
A great trail if you are looking to be amongst giant trees and get some good vistas at the top. Plus, the trail allows dogs (though on leash) and is never too steep (yay) - making it great for trail running as well as hiking. It is an out and back hike, though there are other trail options at the end to make it longer (it is 10.3 miles round trip on its own). Truly great scenery and a stunning blue (of course) alpine lake await at the end.
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Located in State Forest State Park, this trail is 9.8 miles in total and takes you high above tree line for some great views of the surrounding area, including the nearby Never Summer Mountain Range. The trail winds through lush landscapes and a long a couple of alpine lakes. Plus, like Blue Lake Trail, dogs are allowed to use it as well.
A personal favorite, for both mountain biking and trail running, this nice dirt “road” follows a stream the whole way, before reaching Lake Agnes and the unique, and stunning, Nokhu Crags. The trail itself gives you fantastic views of the area, including Cameron Pass. In late spring you will likely see wildflowers and maybe even a moose (or two). Great for a longer ride with your dog or a (relatively) easy hike since it is road grade aka not very steep.
\\ The Top Food Stops in the Poudre Canyon
Great location, great food, and great live music. This icon of Northern Colorado is an excellent spot to hang out during the summer. Located right on the Poudre River, you can sit outside and eat your meal and listen to the water rush by (and maybe see a kayaker or two). The Mishawaka is located about 40 minutes from Fort Collins.
HOWLING COW CAFE
Before heading up the Poudre Canyon make sure to stop by this café for some delicious coffee, a bagel sandwich, and maybe some noosa yogurt - the dairy that the coffee shop sits on is where the yummy yogurt is made. A personal recommendation is the mocha (the chocolate milk they make there is AMAZING) or a root beer milk latte (yes root beer milk is a thing).
ME OH MY PIE
Another must-stop shop, this time in the small town of Laporte, Me Oh My Pie not only serves the namesake dessert, but also all kinds of baked goods, quiches, sandwiches, and if going later in the day (and of course not driving) some alcoholic beverages. Fuel up on a nice sugary treat before heading up the canyon.
\\ The Top Places to Camp Along the Poudre River
Situated right along beautiful Chambers Lake, this campground is perfect for people looking to camp and fish in practically the same spot. It is also close to the aforementioned Blue Lake Trail and State Forest State Park. Learn about reservations and pricing here.
LONG DRAW CAMPGROUND
Another good option for camping in the area, this campground has 25 sites and is also perfect for fishing, hiking, and exploring. The main difference with the Chambers Lake Campground is that this spot is much farther off the main highway, meaning it is a bit quieter and feels more “woodsy.” Each site has a fire grate and picnic table, and bathrooms and drinking water are also available. Learn more about the campground here.
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STATE FOREST STATE PARK YURTS
One of the coolest lodging options in Northern Colorado, the Never Summer Nordic Yurts - located within the State Forest State Park boundary - are an explorers dream. Offering medium-sized yurts, larger yurts, a couple of small one-room cabins, and a big, family-style cabin, there are lots of options to fit your needs. Plus, the location - and outdoor adventures available - is top-notch.