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.
Shared By: Joshua Wells