Cache La Poudre, South Fork, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||114 fpm|
|Max Gradient||202 fpm|
For this run, think small, remote, and wood in inopportune places. Mostly a Class III run with Class V scenery, there are several small gorges that produce most of the excitement. At most water levels, this is a run for boaters that relish wilderness runs. Adrenaline junkies will be disappointed except during very high water, when the character of this run changes and you need a well-developed ability to grab willows instead of eddies. The run used to be tree-clogged, but was flossed and for a brief period was portage-free. Then much of the drainage burned in 2012, followed by floods in 2013.
Assuming there aren’t too many trees, about 1.5 hours into the run you’ll encounter a mini-gorge, not very significant. At about 2.5 hours, watch for the canyon cliffing up; this marks the entrance to a steeper gorge that will get your attention. The crux rapid is maybe another half-hour downstream. This rapid may be difficult to recognize, but in 2014 there’s a tree (mandatory portage) at the top of the gorge. There's a cliff on river left that extends all the way to the water, on a left hand turn. The traditional left-side scout eddy was altered in 2013, and most will portage on right, around two trees and a small log jam. The rest of the run is uneventful, picking up a little gradient before the final plunge just above the confluence with the main stem of the Poudre.
See Colorado Rivers and Creeks II, by Banks and Eckardt (The Bible) and/or Whitewater of the Southern Rockies by Stafford and McCutcheon.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate.
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), and
Filter Plant (Class III).