In Colorado, water is king. There are countless coalitions, clubs and events meant to protect our precious water and educate the public about its importance. It’s truly incredible.
One such organization is the (deep breath) Cache de Poudre River National Heritage Area, and the Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) which serves it. A few times per year, the PHA offers “Pedaling the Poudre” bicycle tours of various areas of the Heritage Area.
The tour I chose was based in Windsor, a nearby town connected to Fort Collins by the Poudre River but with bike trail segments which aren’t connected. (Yet!)
We spent roughly 4 hours slowly cruising 10 miles of the trail and making frequent stops to discuss the Heritage Area. This section of the Poudre is designated as historic due to its role in establishing water law and for its early innovations in water storage and diversion.
I was stunned to find how different the environment around the River Bluffs area of the Poudre River Trail is from my more familiar trail sections in Fort Collins. The bluffs and prairies seem to belong to Iowa or Kansas, not to a town a 20-minute drive from my own.
Our main guide, Jordan, pointed out the site of a bison bone bed where native tribes hunted. It brought to mind my recent visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, and the way that some tribes traveled to different natural land formations (such as these bluffs and arroyos) throughout the seasons.
(I wish I could share a photo of the bison bone bed… it’s a housing development now.)
One of the volunteer guides for the PHA is also a citizen of Windsor and introduced us to an all-volunteer-run demonstration garden called Treasure Island (apparently named for a spot where one of the gardeners liked to skinny-dip). The garden was a vibrant jewel after an hour of beautiful but muted prairie.
I am always grateful to have my friends Tony and Linda around when plants are involved. They know their way around a garden.
I also discovered that the town of Windsor loves its pelicans. Our group spotted a few throughout our tour, then visited this massive sculpture (and, if you look closely, matching benches) along the trail.
Despite a forecast calling for summer showers, we lucked out on a breezy and bright day for a peaceful, contemplative tour of the river which continues to help shape northern Colorado.