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Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop

Intermediate
  4.6 ( 21 ) Favorite

Trail

12.3 mile 19.8 kilometer loop
90% Runnable
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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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 run 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 run.

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 run 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 run. 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 run, 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.

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Aug 13, 2017
Deanna Jamison
Beautiful trail!! Some climbs, but overall a lot of fun to run/hike. 12mi — 2h 53m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 21 votes

#275

Overall
  4.6 from 21 votes
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Featured Run Rankings

#64

in Colorado

#275

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