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Mount McConnel

Mount McConnel

Mount McConnel

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 40.67200°N / 105.464°W

Object Title: Mount McConnel

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 8020 ft / 2444 m


Page By: Kiefer

Created/Edited: Oct 27, 2003 / Mar 29, 2013

Object ID: 152004

Hits: 11898 

Page Score: 80.33%  - 12 Votes 

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The view out west from Mt. McConnel

Of the better known locations up Poudre Canyon northwest of Fort Collins, Mt. McConnel is one of the more popular and easiest to reach destinations, save for Greyrock of course. Being only 35 miles from the college town of Fort Collins (Colorado State), the change in scenery and vegetation is abrupt and noticeable. Since there is a huge and well-maintained campground (Mountain Park) located at the bottom and a well developed class-1 trail to the summit, bathrooms and potable water on site, it's really no surprise that this is a popular site for hikers.

Named for an early Forest Ranger (R.C. McConnel) serving in the Poudre District of Roosevelt National Forest in the early 1900's, Mt. McConnel was included much later into the Wilderness area (1980). The trail and various sections were constructed piecemeal as much of the Larimer County Trail-system was during the 1930's by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). Mt. McConnel is one of only two named peaks in the Poudre Wilderness Area, the other being Bear Peak. And at just over 9,000 acres, it is the second smallest in Colorado.

To be honest, there isn't much especially notable about Mt. McConnel. The summit is a small pile of jumbled rocks (par for the course) well below treeline that due to its low altitude, lacks the grand views of higher peaks in the Mummy Range or Medicene Bow. However, the summit does have some clearing that offers vistas out west to the Mummy Range. Views can be had up and down Poudre Canyon while hiking the lower portions of the trail. The mountain is accessible in the winter due to the low elevation of the trailhead (6,660ft) even though the parking lot/area is gated and closed.

The Cache la Poudre River is one of the heaviest maintained and controlled waterways in Colorado as it supplies much of the Northern Front Range and plains with the seasonal snow melt. Referred to as 'Minni Luzahan' meaning "Swift Current" in Sioux, it was eventually renamed Pateros Creek by white settlers because of a lost frenchman who was taken in and saved by Native Americans during a blizzard. The current name of 'Cache la Poudre' (hidden powder) comes from an old story in 1820 where, caught in a bad blizzard, a band of french fur trappers decided to bury their gunpowder instead of simply abandoning it alongside non-essential provisions, wasting it...hence the name.

Miscellaneous Information
Elevation: 8,010ft.
Larimer County
Trailhead elevation: 6,660ft.
Trails Illustrated: #101 Cache la Poudre Big Thompson
Gain: 1,350ft.
USGS 7-1/2'Quad: Big Narrows

Red Tape

There is a $4.00 day use fee. Considering the upkeep of the trail and lower campground/parking area, I believe this to be a rather reasonable and nominal fee.
Pets must also be kept on leash.

In winter, the parking area is gated off and locked just after the bridge crossing over the Poudre River. However, there is plenty of space to park at the small turn-around before the gate as well as a few dirt spots along Co. 14. Also, something to keep in mind for day-hikers, there is a seperate parking area at the trailhead, evidenced by the trail placard that serves as day parking. The remainder of open spaces are reserved and meant for campers. I don't know if citations would be doled out if one parks in a space designated for a camping site but I probably wouldn't want to find out. Just an FYI.

Getting There

 On the summit of Mount...
On the summit
From Fort Collins, drive north on Co. 287 for approximately ~10 miles to the intersection with Co. 14. This is going to be a "T" intersection and Co. 287 does not stop.

There is a Conoco gas station located here and the whole envion is usually referred to as 'Ted's Place'. I believe it's even referenced to as such on maps.
Turn west onto Co. 14 and drive up the scenic Poudre Canyon for 23.4 miles. The turn will be on the left (south).
Cross the bridge and stay to the right to the desigated parking area.

What to expect

There is a tiny bit of...
As said, the Mt. McConnel Trail is a class-1 trail. However, it is for all extrinsic purposes, split into three segments: the Kreutzer Nature Trail #936, the Mt. McConnel Trail (#992) and a short summit spur (unmaintained #992-1). As one leaves the trailhead, the Kreutzer Nature Trail, at about .6 miles in length is what you'll be hiking first. There are about 22-23 interpretative signs that outline the local ecology, vegatation & wildlife. This switchbacks through dry and dense forest connecting with the Mt. McConnel Trail.
On a quick side note, William Kreutzer was the first official Forest Ranger in Colorado in 1898. He was only 20 years old!

From the junction, one can hike either left or right as the trail is basically a 3.5 mile loop. The summit spur trail is only a .15 walk to the summit. There are plenty of nice spots to have lunch, rest or whatever.
In the summer, this is a dry hike. Bring water or fluids as it gets intolerably hot and dusty. The plentiful bitterbrush, current and Ponderosa Pine can testify to that!
The west fork (right) is especially a nice path.

Oh, and as this is a class-1 hike, expect plenty of company on the trail.


Mountain Park Campground is located 23.5 miles west of Highway 287 on Highway 14 at an elevation of 6,660 feet. The campground is situated amongst ponderosa pines along the Cache La Poudre River. There are 55 sites in the campground. All of the sites are suitable for RV camping and most of the sites are wooded (privacy). Each site has a picnic table and fire ring or grate.
The maximum vehicle length that can be accommodated is 45 feet. Many sites have electrical hookups and showers are available in the campground. Definitely a nice feature!
The roads through the campground are paved. There are 11 water hydrants and seven restrooms. All of the restrooms will accommodate disabled persons. There is a day use picnic area, a group camping area and the group area will accommodate up to 75 campers. Volleyball courts and horseshoe pits are available. Reservations are accepted by calling #970-295-6700. Sites 1-32 at Mountain Park accept reservations and have electrical hookups. Sites 33-55 are first-come, first-served and offer no electricity. The season for Mountain Park Campground normally runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Quick Features
Spur length of 40 feet Drinking water Seven restrooms
Electrical Hookups Playground -of sorts Picnic Area
Group Camping Area Disabled facilities on site Showers on Site
Reservations accepted for sites #1-32 Next to river

The Kreutzer Nature Trail has been recently adopted by the Rocky mountain & Meadowlark churches out of Fort Collins and the summit trail (Mt. McConnel) has been adopted by BSA Troop #83 also in Fort Collins as caretakers!

External Links

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-2 of 2    
joegrimAnother named peak in CLPW


Hasn't voted

First, thanks for making this nice summit page.

However, just to let you know, contrary to what you state in the first paragraph, there is another minor, yet named peak in the Cache la Poudre Wilderness, Bear Mountain Topozone link

Also, using my GPS I calculated that it's 2.2 from the TH to the summit taking the western portion of the loop and 2.4 miles taking the eastern portion.
Posted Jul 31, 2007 11:28 pm
Brian KaletMore Corrections

Brian Kalet

Voted 10/10

Mountain Park Campground is 22.8 miles from 287. The summit elevation should be 8020 and it should be added to the Front Range.
Posted Jul 15, 2010 1:44 pm

Viewing: 1-2 of 2    


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