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Buchanan Pass Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.7 (6)

A high elevation trail leading you even higher!


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Map Key

15.0

Miles

24.2

KM

Point to Point

11,782' 3,591 m

High

8,704' 2,653 m

Low

3,093' 943 m

Up

2,980' 908 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

37%

Max Grade (20°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Need to Know

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.

Description

The Buchanan Pass TH is at the west end of Camp Dick Campground. Limited parking is available. Experienced drivers with a high-clearance 4WD vehicle can continue 3.6 miles further to Middle Saint Vrain 4X4 TH. Open seasonally, this is a rough 4WD EXTREME road. The Buchanan Pass trail runs on the other side of the creek than the 4WD road. When on one, you'd never know the other is there.

This trail 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 trail meanders along the side of St. Vrain Creek making its way up the valley towards the high peaks in the west. After about four 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 Saint 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 footbridge 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. Stay on the Buchanan Pass trail and it continues a bit more to the south before turning west to take you up to the pass.

From the pass, ten miles of trail continues west on the other side of the Continental Divide and connects with the Cascade Trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jared Crockett

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 6 votes

#1

in Ward

#784

Overall
  4.7 from 6 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1

in Ward

#135

in Colorado

#784

Overall
72 Views Last Month
15,165 Since Mar 13, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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75%
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25%
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Photos

Climbing Buchanan Pass on the west side.
Jul 9, 2018 near Nederland, CO
Timberline Falls
Jul 17, 2017 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
Sawtooth mountain watching over you on Buchanan Pass Trail.
Mar 13, 2015 near Nederland, CO

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Check-Ins

Jul 4, 2019
Kat Takahashi
Sep 17, 2017
Ellen Jardine
Undulating through the pine and aspen, perfect fall hike. Great view of sawtooth at the top
Jul 16, 2017
Devin Quince
Nice hike as a last prep for our trip next weekend. Surprisingly not crowded at all. Very pretty. 7.1mi — 4h 46m
Jul 10, 2017
Maggie Wallace
Hiked from trailhead parking west end Camp Dick to just shy of the Red Deer Lake off shoot. Doubled back on trail, beautiful hike. 14mi
Jun 10, 2017
Stacy Iron
Outdoor Adventures Meetup. We only went about 3 miles into the trail, to end at a mountain top meadow. lots of snow, angry creeks, and fallen trees... 7mi
Jun 19, 2016
Luke Snow
16mi — 6h 00m