Bison Arroyo

Trailhead: Frank State Wildlife Area

Description: Like most of the Poudre River Trail, this section is nearly level. From the access on the east end the trail travels through a grassy field before entering a grove of trees. It crosses several drainages before leaving the grove where it follows along near the river for a short distance before it makes a turn to the north and winds between two lakes. The trail extends north of HWY 392 by way of an underpass leading into the River Bluffs section built by Larimer County.

Features: The east bank of the western lake can be used to fish from. The prevalent fish variety is the Bluegill. These are deep-bodied, slab-sided fish with small mouths. The back and sides are olive- green to brown, often with vertical bars on the sides. The lower portion of the gill cover is blue, hence the name “Bluegill”.

Geology: The lakes were formed by gravel mining activities in the flood plain of the Cache la Poudre River. To the south and west you can see the bluffs and arroyos formed thousands of years ago by water erosion.

History: This section of the trail, Bison Arroyo, was named for the presence of the Kaplan-Hoover Bison Bone Bed Archeological Site. This site is located in the arroyos to the south of the trail. The Kaplan-Hoover Bison Bone Bed, discovered during excavations for the River West Subdivision, is the largest known Archaic Period bison hunt site in the Americas.

It is believed that pre-historic Native American hunters used these arroyos to capture a herd of bison, then slaughtered them at this site, all in a single kill event. The skeletal remains indicate that the hunters left a surplus of bison carcasses for the other carnivores to eat. These other carnivores, that left scars on the skeletal remains, included wolves, coyotes and black bears.

This site is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. An interpretive sign located along the trail provides information on the significance of this feature. To read more on this archeological site  visit:   WEBSITE