Platte River Wilderness
The North Platte River in Platte River Wilderness
Platte River Wilderness is comprised of 23,492 acres with about 743 acres in Colorado and the rest in southern Wyoming. The Platte River Wilderness mostly runs north and east of the Platte River as it crosses the Colorado-Wyoming state line and heads north through North Gate Canyon, a very popular area with the whitewater-rafting set. The entire wilderness area is contained within the bounds of Medicine Bow National Forest.
There's not a great deal of elevation change on the property but sections of the canyons can be steep and rocky. Platte Ridge rises east of the river but is relatively flat and well-forested. The streams in this area are noted for their abundance of trout. The forest is noted for its abundance of elk, deer and black bear.
On the northeast side of the property is Douglas Creek, a good trout stream with an easy trail along its entire length through the wilderness (about 9.5 miles). At the south end of the wilderness is the Platte River Trailhead and after a steep drop from the trailhead, the Platte River Trail is an easy hike along the west bank of the river for about five miles. If the river level is low enough (as in late summer, early fall) you can ford the river and continue further north on the east bank. Otherwise, the trail dead ends at that river crossing. There are several other established trails in the area that can be combined to make some nice loops.
Some maps of the area show old roads crossing the wilderness but when Congress granted that wilderness designation back in 1984, those roads were barricaded and are now just good trails.
Rafters on the North Platte River
Maps courtesy of National Geographic Topo!