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Red Deer Lake

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (14) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A beautiful creekside hike in an awesome mountain setting!


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Map Key

14.2

Miles

22.9

KM

Out and Back

10,372' 3,161 m

High

8,703' 2,653 m

Low

1,725' 526 m

Up

1,725' 526 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Dogs prohibited between December 1 and April 30.

Overview

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).

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jared Crockett

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 14 votes

#1

in Ward

#549

Overall
  4.6 from 14 votes
5 Star
64%
4 Star
29%
3 Star
7%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Ward

#107

in Colorado

#549

Overall
691 Views Last Month
13,637 Since Mar 13, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
8%
58%
0%
33%
0%

Photos

Come for the run, stay for the beauty!
Mar 13, 2015 near Nederland, CO
Waterfalls and snow in mid-July, as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.
Jul 18, 2019 near Nederland, CO
Sawtooth mountain watching over you on Buchanan Pass Trail.
Mar 13, 2015 near Nederland, CO
Looking west into Indian Peaks Wilderness
Aug 3, 2017 near Nederland, CO
Blue sky day on Buchanan Pass Trail.
Jul 6, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Near the intersection with the St. Vrain Glacier trail.
Mar 13, 2015 near Nederland, CO

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Check-Ins

Jul 18, 2019
JP Jones
Outstanding hike, some truly breathtaking meadows, trail maintenance is excellent. 14.2mi — 7h 00m
Jul 5, 2019
Beth Barron
Backpacked with son. Snow packed for Red Deer Lake portion. Followed footprints and made after one wrong turn. Beautiful views all along the way. 14mi
Jul 4, 2019
Yoshiyuki Takahashi
14mi
Jun 29, 2019
Mariah Jo Smith
Didn't make it all the way up 11.6mi
Sep 2, 2018
L C
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