At most levels this can be considered a “beginner creek” run, consisting mostly of rock-dodging with a few more discrete drops. It’s a beautiful wilderness run that will disappoint hard-core creeker. If you’re looking for non-stop action, go somewhere else. If you’re seeking a wilderness run with manageable rapids and beautiful scenery, and don’t mind a mellow paddle out to the reservoir, you’ll like this stretch.
The big event is an uncharacteristic small falls (~6’), about 2/3 of the way through the trip. The scout is marked by a relatively discrete drop (one of just a few) with a prominent cliff on river left that goes all the way to water level. Get out on river left by the large pointy rock and climb the outcrop for a look. At low to moderate water levels, the falls tend to be low-consequence, carnage is rare, and there’s a great boof move into the eddy below. At levels over ~ 600(?) the river-right eddy just above the falls gets small, squirrely, and it drains into an ugly slot between two huge boulders so you’ll want to know where you’re going. About 1,000 (?) the hole and boils into the undercuts at the falls get ugly – be sure to scout and don’t blow the line!! The portage isn’t fun, and is easier on river-right.
Just below the falls is a notably steep drop with a sharp left at the bottom, immediately followed by two fun play holes and a sunny rock. Shortly beyond this you’ll enter the fence zone and a mellow paddle out. Be heads-up for several fences that will require portages at high water or adept fence-evading at lower levels.
The landowners at the bridge by Trails End have mellowed, and they’ve been downright friendly the last couple years. At the putin, please be polite, respectful and modest and don’t screw this up. Think Bailey and float through the Trails End property quietly and quickly. There’s a long history of access issues, including confrontations and a call to the sheriff to sort things out and it’s worth going out of your way to maintain the currently cordial relations.
The easiest putin at the bridge is upstream river left, using the bridge abutment for access. Unload at the bridge but leave your car at the very good off-road parking a short (2-3 minute) walk past the bridge. The key challenge to this run is the road to Halligan, which in the distant past (10-25 yrs) almost always opened for Memorial Day weekend. During the past decade it’s sometimes opened earlier in May, but in 2014 Colorado Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (by phone) was incorrectly telling boaters the road was open when in fact it was closed. It’s a harsh 2.5 mi, uphill carry out from the reservoir. Only the truly tough will consider that an option! There’s usually beta on MountainBuzz about access as the water rises. The drainage for this run is low-elevation and it’s an early-season run.
Prior to the road opening, an apparently attractive alternative is to paddle across the (posted) Halligan Reservoir, then carry around the (posted) dam and run down to the road. It’s physically possible to do so, but there is, unambiguously, no legal way to do it. If you meet anyone in this section (there’s private access, it flows through a TNC reserve, and it’s a prime fishing stretch), there’s a high likelihood of a very unpleasant confrontation, and the very real possibility of an even more unpleasant meeting with the sheriff at the takeout. Below Halligan the creek bed is full of willows; it's not a secret whitewater stash.
Once Halligan Reservoir fills, you’ll have the flow at USGS gauge 06751490
CLANLICO (North Fork Cache la Poudre R. at Livermore, Co.)
For descriptions of Colorado runs, see Whitewater of the Southern Rockies by Stafford and McCutchen, or Colorado Rivers and Creeks by Banks and Eckert.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.
Big South (Class V/VI),Joe Wright Creek (Class V),Spencer Heights (Class V/VI),South Fork (Class IV/V),White Mile Run/Upper Rustic (Class III),Grandpa's Gorge/Lower Rustic (Class III/IV),The Narrows (Class IV/V/V+),Upper Mishawaka (Class III/IV),Lower Mishiwaka (Class III),Poudre Park (Class IV),Bridges (Class III/IV),Upper North Fork (Class IV/V),Lower North Fork (Class II/III), andFilter Plant (Class III).
As of may 2018. If you try and use the secret putin on private property, their is a barbwire fence below the putin bridge, you can see it from the road. Doing the mile hike bypasses this and tho a workout, does not make you miss any rapids.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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North Poudre Falls
Falls at more normal level.
Falls at high water - it gets gnarly.
Inbetween stuff at high water.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.
Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!
Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River.
Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer.
Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)
ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review.
Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many. At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado. Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State. We miss him immensely.
Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit; a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.
Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017. Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today!
On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.
Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring. This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...
Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County.
There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.
Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities.
A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.
Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games. Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can. This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!
Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.
Colorado - On December 23, Governor Bill Ritter issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed. The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July of 2010 to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise.
Colorado - Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their proposed management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area, encompassing over a million acres of soaring plateaus, wild and scenic rivers, and sweeping sagebrush basins. Special interests are trying to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to protect portions of the Yampa River – one of the nation's last free flowing rivers. Let BLM know that protections for these rivers are important to you!
This spring, the Colorado Legislature is considering a bill, which helps protect the rights of commercial boaters to float on commercial sections of river, and increases the safety of boaters by decriminalizing incidental contact with private land to portage obstacles. HB -1188 is a good bill, but doesn't go far enough! HB-1188 passed out of the House by a vote of 40-25, and is scheduled to be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote on March 17th. We urge you to contact members of Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to support HB-1188, and to amend the bill to include all members of the paddling public.
A couple of Colorado media outlets came out opposed to HB 1188! But we can fight back and let our opinions be heard too. VOTE NOW in the ONLINE POLL - it takes 1 minute!
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