There's a pretty substantial amount of vert on this hike, ~3,100ft! Look for the beautiful field of paintbrush flowers in the back that you need to catch in bloom. Such a great hike, the Gore Range Trail is simply awesome.
Rocky at parts, rolling singletrack at parts, this route takes you to the back of Buffalo on the Gore Range Trail. Yes, you can expect downed trees, it's the Gores!
Make sure you bring your A-game for the climb to Eccles Pass... From this trail, head down into the open meadow and take a right to continue on the Gore Range Trail (towards Uneva Pass). Left will take you to Lily Pad Lake junction, off of Meadow Creek Trail.
The routes start on Buffalo Cabin Trail
is relatively mellow and brings you through a thick forested section of trees. Traverse along an old aqueduct and down onto the South Willow Falls Crossover
bringing you up to the waterfalls! Parts of this section can be demanding with some steeper rocky parts that require your full attention. Once you pass the falls and are heading up behind Buffalo on the Gore Range Trail you can expect plenty more vert and eventually some smooth rolling singletrack once you're fully behind Buffalo.
Finally, you'll pass the junction to Red Buffalo Pass at about 5 miles in, but continue on straight following the beautiful singletrack winding around the several small high alpine lakes. Then you'll begin the climb to Eccles Pass which is very steep and rocky, this will slow ya down quite a bit! Take in the views at the top of the Tenmile range, Gore range and Deming Peak before you begin your descent into the meadow creek valley. This downhill section is open and easy singletrack that you can really kick it into high gear with.
Make sure to stay on Meadow Creek Trail once you're down from Eccles ~7 miles into your journey, unless you're feeling up for another big climb on the Gore Range Trail!
You'll cross over the creek a couple of times, then head back into the forest, descending towards the lily pad lake junction. At mile 11.1 you'll follow the well-signed trail split left towards the lake and follow the cruiser trail all the way back to the car.
Buffalo Cabin Trail
--> South Willow Falls Crossover
--> Gore Range Trail --> Meadow Creek Trail --> Lily Pad Lake and then some and back to the car!