Hiking Project Logo

blue Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop

  4.5 ( 17 )

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store


12.3 mile 19.8 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,921' 585 m
Descent: -1,917' -584 m
High: 11,575' 3,528 m
Low: 9,968' 3,038 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Joshua Wells

A loop leading through secluded, wide open terrain with beautiful scenery.

Joshua Wells

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

This is almost entirely within the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness so please observe wilderness restrictions posted on the parking lot sign.


The greatest thing about this hike is its variety. It has evergreen forest, creeks, waterfalls, and meadows. And with the absence of any fourteeners, Buffalo Peaks Wilderness tends to be more secluded that other nearby wilderness areas. Overall if you're looking for a weekend backpacking trip this is an excellent choice. It would also be great for a long day hike.

Need to Know

  • Depending on the time of year there can be multiple creek crossings along the trail, mostly in the meadows after the Tumble Creek fork. These can be a little tricky to cross without getting wet so just be creative.
  • Parking is somewhat limited at the trailhead but there may be more space along the road.


This hike can be done going either clockwise or counter-clockwise (as mapped). It really doesn't matter which way you go since both directions are pretty similar in terms of grade and trail conditions.

Going counter-clockwise, the trail starts by following the Rich Creek Trail #616 for about half the hike. Along Rich Creek, you'll mostly be going through evergreen forests until you get to the top of the gorge and reach the meadows. The meadows tend to have mellower elevation gain but are still fairly steady until you reach the Tumble Creek fork.

After the fork you'll now be on the Tumble Creek Trail #617 and it will mostly be downhill from there. Right before the end of the loop there is one last ridge to climb, but it's through a nicely shaded aspen forests and it isn't too steep.

There is ample water along most of the hike, though it does appear to contain a lot of iron. So bring a filter and don't be freaked out by the redness of the water.

History & Background

The Buffalo Peaks are different from other nearby peaks because they are the remnant of an old, extinct volcano. If you're observant, you'll notice that the geology tends to be different in this wilderness area as well.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Sep 29, 2018
Libby S
Sep 22, 2018
Beautiful hike with varied eco zones. 11.6mi — 4h 30m
Sep 22, 2018
Jenny Montague
Sep 9, 2018
Brandon Snacks
Sep 6, 2018
Charles Yun
Aug 22, 2018
Aaron Parker
Jul 1, 2018
Jun 13, 2018
Jazz G
Great hike beautiful views great loop. 12.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 17 votes


  4.5 from 17 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Colorado


129 Views Last Month
11,605 Since Jun 28, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate

This hike is beautiful in the fall. BE CAREFUL DRIVING HERE. I received two flat tires from sharp rocks. It was a super fun and expensive souvenir. I’ve driven my trailblazer on much more difficult/rocky terrain. You are also slapped with a $250 fee for being on an unmaintained road. That aside, I still got to go backpacking because I had some extremely friendly locals helping me out. The hike was lovely. Not very challenging. I did a one night trip. I would rather do this hike as a day hike instead of overnight. The views were good. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done. Definitely worth hiking in the fall. I saw a small moose and met a lot of super friendly people. I probably won’t be spending anymore time up there given the road condition. Oct 1, 2018

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking