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blue Red Deer Lake

  4.4 ( 12 ) Favorite


14.2 mile 22.9 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,725' 526 m
Descent: -1,725' -526 m
High: 10,372' 3,161 m
Low: 8,703' 2,653 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)


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Trail shared by Jared Crockett

A beautiful creekside hike in an awesome mountain setting!

Jared Crockett

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Dogs prohibited between December 1 and April 30.


These trails run through beautiful scenery along a pristine creek. They eventually lead you to a fabulous little lake for camping and fishing (or just a hike).

Need to Know

The first mile of trail is day use only. The next three miles is open to dispersed camping and no permit is required. West of the Middle Saint Vrain 4X4 TH is the Indian Peaks wilderness boundary. Inside the Indian Peaks Wilderness, campfires are not allowed. Year-round camping permit requirements exist for all groups between June 1 and September 15. Overnight permits are $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15. Groups of more than 12 are not permitted. Packstock restrictions apply.

From Nederland, travel approximately 18 miles north on Colorado Highway 72. Look for signs for Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick Campgrounds. There is parking for many vehicles west of the campgrounds (drive through the campgrounds to get to the parking).


This hike is in a beautiful setting, running up the St. Vrain drainage. There are beautiful colors here in the fall. It's possible to encounter elk and moose along this trail, so keep an eye out.

The Buchanan Pass Trail meanders along the side of St. Vrain creek making its way up the valley towards the high peaks in the west. After about 4 miles, there is another trailhead - this is where the 4WD road ends. It's possible to turn this trail into a loop by following the 4WD road back down. Continue upward and you're rewarded with stunning views of some of the Indian Peaks. Sawtooth mountain is especially awesome looking from here.

For those wanting to continue onward, the trail begins a very large switchback at this point. It heads north toward the St. Vrain Glacier. After a mile or two the trail will intersect with the St. Vrain Glacier trail which, of course, will take you up to the glacier. Stay on the Buchanan Pass trail and it will cross the creek and head back down south. Note, the foot bridge over this creek was washed out the last time I was there.

Another mile or so and the trail intersects with the Red Deer Lake Trail. This trail is easy to miss, it's a sharp right hand turn (to the west) in the midst of the woods. This trail takes you up to Red Deer Lake, which is a beautiful alpine lake. It's worth it for the views and the pristine setting. If you're into this sort of thing, this is also a great spot for camping and fishing.


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Sep 2, 2018
Aug 27, 2018
Patrick Donovan
Great trip to Red Deer Lake. Note: A permit is required for all groups (regardless of the size noted in app) camping in the wilderness. $100 fine.
Apr 11, 2018
Mark McCorkindale
Starting from locked gate east of Peaceful Valley campground, hiked Buchanan to just 550m short of 2nd trailhead. Still too much snow. 10mi — 5h 00m
Mar 2, 2018
Chan Park
Aug 20, 2016
Larry David
Jun 19, 2016
Bruce Clark
A good amount of water and runoff made things interesting.
Sep 26, 2015
Amanda Chatman

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 12 votes


in Ward


  4.4 from 12 votes
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