Peak(s):  West Buffalo Pk  -  13,326 feet
East Buffalo Pk  -  13,300 feet
Date Posted:  06/20/2009
Modified:  06/28/2009
Date Climbed:   05/20/2009
Author:  MtnHermit
 Buffalo Peaks Loop Backpack   

This report describes a trail hike around the Buffalo Peaks. It is in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. About half the distance is in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. Depending on which trailhead you choose, the distance is between 25-28 miles.

When to Go:
This trip is best in spring when you need to get out and stretch your legs and theirs too much snow at higher elevations. The maximum trail elevation is 11,440' at Buffalo Pass. Alternately, mid-September, would be a good choice as theirs many large aspen groves. I'd avoid mid-summer due to horrific mosquitoes in the Buffalo Meadows portion of the loop.

Which Trailhead:
The most intriguing part of this trip are the dozen or so trailhead choices scattered along the N, E & S sides in the Pike NF, in the San Isabel NF only one choice exists, the Fourmile TH at the end of CR/FR 375. This map shows the many options:

Note the red dashed trail and the many roads intersecting the trail on the right side of the map. Each of those intersections is a possible trailhead. Then choose clockwise or anti-clockwise.

The map from Above the Timber is for any Garmin GPS, amazingly handy to have your position on the map at all times.

Two cautions:
1- CR/FR 375 is closed several miles south of the trailhead until April 15th.
2- All the eastern access choices are closed until a week before Memorial Day, contact the Pike NF for the exact opening date.

A possible earlier entry can be had off the Weston Pass road and use the Rich Creek trail, adding 5+ miles to the loop.

Water Sources:
Fourmile and Rough & Tumbling Creeks are year-around streams. My guess is that most branches of Salt Creek also flow year-around. I doubt that the eastern streams from Lynch Creek south to Pony Creek flow all year, Lynch was marginal in May, while Pony was over-flowing.

My Trip
I started Monday May 18th at the Fourmile TH about 1-mile south of the Salt Creek trail intersection.

West Buffalo Peak from the Fourmile trail.

The Fourmile trail is one of the most scenic portions and just before Buffalo Pass, this view of the Midland Hills and the distant Sangres.

For my entire journey, this flippy tailed critter was ahead of me:

Buffalo Pass, the snow was mostly solid and with many bare spots. Excellent camping here.

Buffalo Meadow is a giant bog, can you say mosquitoes? The trail is on the left (west side) either in or just next to the trees.

Intersection of Rich and Tumbling Creek trails. Buffalo Pass is at the top of the meadow.

A typical bit of the Tumbling trail before entering the timber, in the distance the Tarryal Mtns

The foot bridge crossing Rough & Tumbling Creek

Just before I quit for the first day this bull appeared for 2-seconds.

Six-point bull in velvet above the Lynch Creek ponds.

Campsite location along Lynch Creek

East & West Buffalo Peaks from the NE

A manual mine winch above Pony Creek

My campsite for the second night, below the biggest Bristlecone I'd ever seen. I always thought Bristlecone only grew on bare ridges, but their were many more with lots of seedlings.

Campsite location below the monster bristlecone

End of trip GPS screen. The black line is the GPS track.

I met two backpackers near the base of Rough & Tumbling Creek, otherwise no people, no vehicles parked or moving. Nice bit of solitude.

That's all folks!!!

If you have a general interest question, use the comment section, I'll get an email and update the trip report.

Comments or Questions
GPS Track
06/19/2013 19:11
Hey, I'm considering doing this route, but counterclockwise. Do you have the gps track you could post. I see you used Mapsource. Garmin gdb file or other neutral format would be great. Thanks.

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