Leave No Trace

Minimize Campfire Impacts - Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

This trail is temporarily closed due to flooding!


One Way Length
Beginning Elevation
Peak Elevation
Gain/Loss/Net Gain
USFS Regulations
Trails Illustrated
4.7 miles (trailhead to Stove Prairie Road overlook)
Hikers – Moderate;    Stock – Moderate
National Forest & Special Regulations
#101 Cache La Poudre, Big Thompson
Poudre Park


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.

GPS Coordinates
End of special regs
Trail end

N40°41.317’ W105°20.890’ Open lightbox
N40°40.105’ W105°20.670’
N40°38.611’ W105°21.985’
Young Gulch Trail elevation profile


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.

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  • This trail was destroyed in the floods of 2012. The Forest Service plans to start restoring the trail in the spring of 2016. If you wish to be involved in this effort watch for announcements on the PWV web page for public work days.

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