Mount Mcconnel Trail

Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

Elevation Gain3,077ft
Trailhead Elevation6,667ft
Elevation Min/Max6630/7969ft
Elevation Start/End6667/6667ft

Mount Mcconnel Trail

Mount Mcconnel Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Roosevelt National Forest and Cache La Poudre Wilderness Area. It is 3.8 miles long and begins at 6,667 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,077 feet. Along the trail there is parking. This trail connects with the following: Mount Mcconnel Nature Trail.

Mount Mcconnel Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

The Best Fort Collins Hikes (Colorado Mountain Club Press)
John Gascoyne (And the Colorado Mountain Club)
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"The McConnell Summit Trail is a short and scenic loop hike in the Cache La Poudre Wilderness,with great views of the Poudre Canyon, Poudre River, and surrounding mountain ranges. There is a four-dollar fee for day use; drinking water and restrooms are available at the trailhead.Although the parking lot is closed in winter, the lower elevation of the area makes hiking possible during most of the year. Caution should be used in winter months, however, as much of the trail is north facing and may have snow.Dogs on a leash are allowed. The Cache La Poudre Wilderness is a small wilderness area of 9,400 acres and is crossed by the Poudre River and the Little South Fork of the Poudre River.Mount McConnell and Bear Mountain are the only two named peaks in the wilderness area, according to the USGS map. There are only two maintained trails in the area: the McConnell Summit Trail, described here, and the Kreutzer Nature Trail. The Summit Trail loops off of the Kreutzer Trail."
Best Loop Hikes Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Steve Johnson & David Weinstein
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"Legend has it that in 1820 a number of French fur trappers were caught in a terrific snowstorm in northern Colorado. It was vital to drop everything but the bare essentials in order to survive. Rather than waste their gunpowder, the trappers decided to bury it near the river bordering their travel route. That river is now known as the Cache la Poudre, or “hiding place of powder.” The high canyon walls and rolling forests of this area attracted Native Americans, trappers, miners, and timber crews. Today the Poudre Canyon draws adventurers of a different breed to hike, fish, raft, or camp. The Mount McConnel Trail in the Cache la Poudre Wilderness Area delivers terrific views of the northern reaches of the Mummy Range and of the canyon and its namesake river below. The path switchbacks all the way up to the summit and follows a steep and challenging descent back to the beginning of this short loop."
100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"At 9,380 acres, the Cache La Poudre Wilderness is one of the smallest wilderness areas in the state. Nevertheless, hikers who reach the summit of the wilderness area’s Mount McConnel will be rewarded with breathtaking views and pristine timberlands."
Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park (Wilderness Press)
Alan Apt and Kay Turnbaugh
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"This is a short, relatively easy hike with spectacular views of the Poudre Canyon and distant peaks. Its location next to a campground and the river make a weekend river reverie tempting. The trail includes some steep sections. The steepest, sketchiest section of the main trail is the east side of the loop. If you don’t have good soles on your boots or a good sense of balance, you might want to avoid it because parts of it are a slippery chute. If you want to see all of the sites and avoid the steep sections, go out and back to the summit on the west side, return to the trailhead, and then take a short jaunt on the east side of the loop and turn around after you have seen the view and enjoyed a few informational nature trail signs."
Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"By Colorado standards Mount McConnel is scarcely a mountain at all but rather an 8,000-foot hill of the northeast side of the Front Range. Nevertheless its location, just west of Fort Collins and high above the beautiful Poudre River Valley, has made it a popular hike. Like many of the trails in Colorado, the trail to the top of Mount McConnel was built in the mid-1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. More recently the lower part of the trail has been made into a nature walk with interpretive plaques at key points along the way that provide information about the history and ecology of the area."

Mount Mcconnel Trail Trip Reports

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We only did half the trail but we didn't expect to find this treasure where we were camping. I plan to go back and enjoy this hike again.
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We had a really good time with the nature trail part of this trail. Even with the rain. Too bad the signage was a little wacko...we completely missed the summit trail until we were heading back and happened to see it...on the summit trail, not on the nature trail. Well, it will make a nice hike the next time.
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This was an excellent hike. No one on the trail; and it was very scenic.

The trail guide, and the signs at the trailhead are wrong about the elevation gain. The GPS I had, recorded a starting elevation of 6650 and an elevation at the summit of 8015 ft. This was a 1362 ft gain over 1.8 miles, not the 850 ft gain listed. No big deal, but it was inaccurate.

The Trails Illustrated Map for the Cache La Poudre/ Big Thompson, # 101 is also inacurate. It shows that there is one trail head, but in reality there are two. One at the campground / bathroom, which heads to the Kreutzer Nature Trail and then to the west side of the Mt McConnel tral, and another near the bridge, which goes to the east side of the McConnel trail.

Consult the map at the fee pay station.

The hike from the parking lot goes up fairly quickly, but from the summit heading back to the road at the bridge it is much more difficult and more primitive. Not too bad, but it required more focus and I would not attempt this in anything other than good hiking shoes. It actually took longer coming down than going up, which was surprising.

All in all, this is a great hike, less than an hour away from Fort Collins.
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This was a pretty good hike. Very little trail traffic and some nice views of the river canyon and the northern end of Rocky Mountain national park.

Two mild negatives:

- The trail description has the start elevation @ 7520 ft, summit @ 8010 ft. So, about 600 vertical feet in ~2 miles. However, my GPS showed the beginning of the hike to be at about 6800 ft. So instead of doing 600 ft it was about 1300 ft. in two miles. Quite a difference!
- On the return leg, the guide describes the trail as a "steep and rocky route" that drops north. This is a bit of an understatement. The trail is very, very steep in places. It doesn't require any technical equipment and it's not exposed at all, but there are places where you literally can't see more than about 10-15 feet of trail because there is a steep lip to scramble over. The trail in narrow, very rocky and if you make one misstep you could easily have yourself a very bad afternoon.

Mount Mcconnel Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Roosevelt National Forest
Nearby City
Roosevelt National Forest
Skill Level
Roosevelt National Forest
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated, Cache La Poudre/ Big Thompson, Number 100 USGS, Big Narrows, Roosevelt National Forest 7.5 minute
Local Maps

Trail Log