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Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop

Intermediate

Trail

12.3 mile 19.8 kilometer loop
Intermediate

Elevation

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

Grade

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

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Map Key

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.

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Sep 28, 2019
Alexander Molik
There's a fire ban in Park County currently. 12.3mi
Aug 31, 2019
Jon Ray Gardner
Trails clear, crossings easy and still good water sources throughout. 12.5mi
Jul 20, 2019
Ky Kline
Vekasy and Pratt 12.3mi — 19h 13m
Jun 28, 2019
Chris Kaplan
12.3mi — 5h 15m
Sep 29, 2018
Libby S
12.3mi
Sep 22, 2018
wildtrout1
Beautiful hike with varied eco zones. 11.6mi — 4h 30m
Sep 22, 2018
Jenny Montague
12mi
Sep 9, 2018
Brandon Snacks

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 22 votes

#320

Overall
  4.5 from 22 votes
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Hike Rankings

#67

in Colorado

#320

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Photos

A beautiful day makes our trek along Rich Creek all the better.
Feb 18, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
Aspen forests adorn the trail.
Feb 18, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
East and West Buffalo Peaks rise above the wilderness.
Feb 18, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
Multiple small, cascading waterfalls flow along Rough And Tumbling Creek.
Feb 18, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
West Buffalo Peak from above Tumble Creek. Three miles from end of loop going counterclockwise.
Jul 16, 2019 near Buena V…, CO