One Way Length
4.7 miles (trailhead to Stove Prairie Road overlook)
Hikers – Moderate; Stock – Moderate
National Forest & Special Regulations
#101 Cache La Poudre, Big Thompson
Drive up the Poudre Canyon, 13 miles from Ted’s Place. Ansel Watrous Campground is on the right. You will cross a small bridge. At mile marker 109 there is a dirt road on the left that will take you to the parking lot. The trailhead is located in the southeast corner of the parking lot. Facilities are available at Ansel Watrous Campground.
End of special regs
Note that there is considerable poison ivy along the lower trail and in the streambed.
Special Regulations: Camping and fires are not allowed within 1/4 mile of the trail during the first 1.7 miles. A Forest Service sign marks the end of the restriction.
The City of Fort Collins acquired the right from the Forest Service to develop a property known as Young’s Gulch (now called Young Gulch) in 1918. The City spent $300 in the spring of 1919 to build a road up the gulch, and was assisted by the Forest Service in planting trees in the area. The trail meanders up Young Gulch and then Prairie Gulch, crossing the stream a total of 44 times (21 times below the small stream coming out of upper Young Gulch, the crossing of that stream, and 22 crossings of the stream coming down Prairie Gulch. Only two of the crossings are facilitated by bridges so travel in early spring can be challenging (and wet!). The climb is very gradual and scenic, with ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir dominating the hillsides. Alder, maple, quaking aspen, Rocky Mountain juniper and narrowleaf cottonwood are the dominant tree species found along the stream. After about 4 miles, there’s an open meadow on the left side of the stream, supporting large ponderosa pine. This is a good turnaround point, but you can continue on the trail for another mile, where you intersect private land at a point overlooking the Stove Prairie Road. This trail is heavily used by mountain bikers, which can lead to conflicts between hikers, dogs and bikers. Illegal camping and campfires, can be quite prominent during the summer months, especially around the parking lot and the first mile along the trail.