Cow Creek NRT Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the Cow Creek NRT Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 6.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Cow Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) holds a significant place in the history of the region it traverses. Located in the Umpqua National Forest of Oregon, this trail has a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, who relied on the land’s resources for their sustenance and cultural practices.

During the mid-1800s, European settlers began to explore and settle in the region. The trail played a crucial role in facilitating transportation and trade between the settlements, as it followed the path of Cow Creek, a major waterway in the area. The trail was primarily used by pioneers, loggers, and miners who sought to access the abundant natural resources of the region, such as timber and gold.

In the late 19th century, the trail became an important route for the booming timber industry. Logging operations extensively used the trail to transport logs from the forests to mills and markets. The trail’s proximity to Cow Creek allowed for easy transportation of the timber, contributing to the economic growth of the region. The logging industry continued to thrive well into the 20th century, leaving a lasting impact on the landscape and the trail itself.

Today, the Cow Creek NRT stands as a testament to the historical significance of the area. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can explore this trail, immersing themselves in the rich history and natural beauty of the Umpqua National Forest. The trail offers glimpses into the past, with remnants of old logging camps, abandoned mining sites, and the cultural heritage of the Native American tribes that once called this land home. The Cow Creek NRT serves as a reminder of the region’s historical roots and the enduring legacy of those who shaped its history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Cow Creek Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Cow Creek NRT Trail. It is located off of Highway 34, approximately 10 miles west of Loveland, Colorado.

2. Dunraven Trailhead: This trailhead is located at the end of Dunraven Glade Road, off of Highway 34. It provides access to the Cow Creek NRT Trail from the north.

3. McGraw Ranch Trailhead: Situated within the McGraw Ranch Conservation Easement, this trailhead offers access to the Cow Creek NRT Trail from the south. It is located off of Highway 34, approximately 5 miles west of Loveland.

4. Lion Gulch Trailhead: Although not directly on the Cow Creek NRT Trail, the Lion Gulch Trailhead provides an alternative access point. It is located off of Highway 34, approximately 6 miles west of Loveland.

5. Crosier Mountain Trailhead: This trailhead is located off of Highway 34, approximately 8 miles west of Loveland. While it primarily serves the Crosier Mountain Trail, it also intersects with the Cow Creek NRT Trail, providing an additional access point.

6. Cedar Park Trailhead: Located off of Highway 34, approximately 9 miles west of Loveland, the Cedar Park Trailhead offers access to the Cow Creek NRT Trail from the south.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Cow Creek NRT Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Cow Creek NRT Trailhead Parking Lot – Official parking lot for trail access.
2. Local Bus Stop – Public transportation stop for convenient access to the trail.
3. Taxi Service – On-demand taxi service for transportation to and from the trail.
4. Ride-Sharing Service – App-based transportation service for convenient travel to the trail.
5. Bike Rental Shop – Rent bicycles for exploring the trail.
6. Car Rental Agency – Rent a car for transportation to the trail and other destinations.
7. Shuttle Service – Scheduled shuttle service providing transportation to the trail.
8. Hiking Tour Company – Guided hiking tours with transportation to the trail included.
9. Train Station – Train station with connections to nearby areas for transportation to the trail.
10. Airport – Nearby airport for those traveling from farther distances to access the trail.


The amenities available at the Cow Creek NRT Trail may vary, but here are some common amenities that you might find:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could include flush toilets or pit toilets.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas or parking lots available for trail users. These parking spaces could be free or require a fee.

3. Camping Sites: Some trails offer designated camping sites where visitors can set up tents or park RVs. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with tables and benches might be available along the trail or at the trailhead. These areas provide a place for visitors to relax, have a meal, or enjoy the scenery.

5. Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead may have additional amenities such as information kiosks, maps, interpretive signs, and visitor centers. These facilities can provide useful information about the trail and its surroundings.

6. Water Sources: Depending on the trail’s location, there might be access to water sources such as rivers, lakes, or streams. Visitors can use these sources for drinking, fishing, or other recreational activities.

7. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail may have markers or signs along the route to guide visitors and provide information about distances, points of interest, and safety guidelines.

8. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, you might find benches or rest areas where visitors can take a break, enjoy the view, or have a snack.

It’s important to note that the availability of these amenities can vary, so it’s recommended to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for the most up-to-date information on the specific amenities available at the Cow Creek NRT Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Cow Creek Campground – A nearby campground offering lodging options for visitors.
2. Cow Creek Trailhead – The starting point of the Cow Creek NRT Trail, providing access to the trail.
3. Cow Creek Picnic Area – A scenic spot along the trail where visitors can enjoy a picnic.
4. Estes Park – A nearby town with various lodging, food services, and emergency services available.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park – A national park near the trail, offering lodging, food services, and emergency services for visitors.
6. Estes Park Medical Center – A medical center in Estes Park providing emergency medical services.
7. Estes Park Police Department – The local police department in Estes Park, offering emergency services.
8. Estes Park Visitor Center – A visitor center in Estes Park providing information on lodging, food services, and emergency services in the area.
9. Estes Park Mountain Shop – A shop in Estes Park offering outdoor gear and equipment for visitors.
10. Estes Park Brewery – A brewery in Estes Park offering food and drinks for visitors.

Cow Creek NRT Trail Difficulty Notes

The Cow Creek NRT Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail spans approximately 5.6 miles and features a mix of flat sections, gentle inclines, and occasional rocky terrain. While some parts may require a bit of endurance and agility, the overall trail is well-maintained and easily navigable. Hikers can expect to encounter beautiful scenery, including lush forests, meandering creeks, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a challenge or an experienced hiker seeking a scenic adventure, the Cow Creek NRT Trail provides a satisfying and enjoyable experience.

Features And Attractions

The Cow Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) is located in Oregon, USA. While I cannot provide an exhaustive list, here are some scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you may encounter along the trail:

1. Cow Creek: The trail follows the scenic Cow Creek, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding landscape.

2. Umpqua National Forest: The trail is located within the Umpqua National Forest, providing opportunities to explore the forest’s diverse flora and fauna.

3. Wildlife: Keep an eye out for various wildlife species such as deer, elk, birds, and possibly even black bears.

4. Waterfalls: The Umpqua National Forest is known for its numerous waterfalls. While not directly on the trail, you may have the chance to visit nearby falls such as Susan Creek Falls, Watson Falls, or Toketee Falls.

5. Historical Sites: The trail passes through areas with historical significance, including remnants of old logging camps and mining operations. These sites offer a glimpse into the region’s past.

6. Rock Formations: The trail may take you through areas with interesting rock formations, such as cliffs, outcroppings, or unique geological features.

7. Forested Landscapes: Enjoy the beauty of the forested landscapes along the trail, with towering trees, lush vegetation, and peaceful surroundings.

8. Mountain Views: Depending on the specific sections of the trail you explore, you may be treated to stunning views of nearby mountains, such as the Cascade Range.

Remember to check with local authorities or trail guides for the most up-to-date information on specific points of interest along the Cow Creek NRT Trail.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Horses are not allowed on the trail.
– Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
– Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail.
– Camping and fires are not permitted along the trail.
– Hunting and fishing are allowed in designated areas only, following state regulations.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Do not remove or damage any plants, rocks, or other natural features.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Cow Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) is a stunning trail located in the Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado. This trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and the serene Cow Creek. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Cow Creek NRT is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with warm temperatures and clear skies. The trail is at its most vibrant, with wildflowers in full bloom and the surrounding landscape lush and green. Hikers can enjoy the refreshing sound of the creek and the opportunity to spot various wildlife, including deer, elk, and a variety of bird species.

However, it’s important to note that the Cow Creek NRT can be quite popular during the summer, especially on weekends. If you prefer a quieter experience, visiting during weekdays or in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can be a great alternative. During these times, the trail is less crowded, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

As for seasonal closures, it’s essential to be aware of the winter conditions in the area. The Cow Creek NRT is located at an elevation of around 7,000 feet, and heavy snowfall can occur during the winter months, typically from November to April. During this time, the trail may be inaccessible due to snow accumulation, and it is not recommended to attempt hiking unless you have proper winter gear and experience. It’s always advisable to check with the local forest service or park authorities for up-to-date information on trail conditions and closures before planning your visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trailhead: The trailhead of Cow Creek NRT is designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, providing a smooth and level surface for easy access.
2. Paved Pathways: The trail features paved pathways, allowing individuals with mobility devices to navigate the trail comfortably.
3. Wide Trails: The trails are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices, ensuring easy passage for all users.
4. Accessible Restrooms: The trail offers accessible restrooms equipped with features such as grab bars and ample space for wheelchair maneuverability.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be accessible, providing wheelchair-friendly tables and seating options.
6. Accessible Parking: The trail provides designated accessible parking spaces located close to the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
7. Signage and Information: The trail features accessible signage and information boards, providing clear directions and trail information for all users.
8. Accessible Water Stations: Water stations along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing wheelchair users to easily access drinking water.
9. Benches and Rest Areas: The trail offers accessible benches and rest areas at regular intervals, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
10. Assistance Animals: The trail welcomes assistance animals, allowing individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their trained service animals.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Cow Creek NRT Trail is rated as moderate to difficult, requiring hikers to be in good physical condition and have proper hiking gear.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including sudden rainstorms and temperature fluctuations, as the trail is exposed to the elements.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 11 miles long, so plan accordingly and allow enough time to complete the hike.
4. Water Availability: Carry an adequate supply of water, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
5. Wildlife Awareness: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife, including bears, mountain lions, and snakes, and take appropriate precautions such as making noise and carrying bear spray.
6. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost, as the trail can be challenging to navigate in some sections.
7. Elevation Gain: The trail involves significant elevation gain, so be prepared for steep ascents and descents.
8. Trail Conditions: Check for recent trail conditions and closures before embarking on the hike, as the trail may be affected by weather events or maintenance work.
9. Cell Phone Reception: Expect limited or no cell phone reception along the trail, so it’s advisable to have a backup communication plan.
10. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike in groups for safety, especially in remote areas, to minimize risks and provide assistance if needed.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, minimizing impact on the environment, and respecting wildlife and other trail users.
12. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, extra food, and other emergency supplies in case of unexpected situations or injuries.
13. Trailhead Parking: Park your vehicle securely at designated trailhead parking areas and ensure valuables are not left visible to deter theft.
14. Trail Etiquette: Yield to uphill hikers, be respectful of other trail users, and follow any specific trail rules or regulations.
15. Trail Closure Notices: Stay informed about any trail closures or restrictions by checking with local authorities or trail management agencies before your hike.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Cow Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) is of significant importance due to its ecological value and the need to protect its natural resources. The trail is located within the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado, and it traverses diverse ecosystems, including riparian areas, montane forests, and high alpine meadows. As a result, the conservation status of the Cow Creek NRT is crucial for preserving the biodiversity and ecological integrity of these habitats.

Efforts to conserve the Cow Creek NRT are primarily focused on maintaining the trail’s natural features and minimizing human impact. The trail is subject to regular monitoring and assessment to identify any potential threats to the surrounding environment. Conservation initiatives aim to prevent erosion, protect water quality, and preserve the integrity of the trail system. This involves implementing erosion control measures, such as constructing water bars and retaining walls, to minimize sedimentation and maintain the stability of the trail.

Additionally, the conservation status of the Cow Creek NRT involves managing and mitigating the impact of recreational activities. This includes educating trail users about Leave No Trace principles, which promote responsible outdoor practices to minimize disturbance to the natural environment. By raising awareness about the importance of conservation, visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails, avoid disturbing wildlife, and properly dispose of waste. These efforts contribute to the long-term sustainability of the Cow Creek NRT and ensure the preservation of its unique ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

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