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 Buffalo Mountain

Length: 5.25 miles (approx.)
Highlights: 
Wildlife, stunning vistas, being on the peak of Buffalo!
Difficulty Rating:
Advanced
Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,000 ft

Directions:
Exit I-70 at exit 205 and take Colorado 9 north (about a block) to the traffic light at Wendy's. Turn left onto Wildernest Rd., just in front of the 7-11, and continue 3.5 miles to the final loop at the end of the road. (Wildernest Rd. turns into Ryan Gulch Road)

At the top of the loop you will see a parking area on your left. Park here and cross the road. You will see the trailhead sign on your right - Buffalo Cabin Trail.

Above: Buffalo Mountain on our
approach to the trailhead.

 

 Below: Trailhead to Buffalo Cabin Trail


 

 
Description:
This is a challenging day hike that will take you to the top of one of Summit County's most distinguishing landmarks. The trail has been recently improved but it remains steep and rocky. It begins with a steady ascent through a thick pine forest that enters the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. A short walk leads to a trail junction where you take the Buffalo Cabin Trail west (left). After a half mile or so from the trail head you encounter a couple 19th century cabins ruins. (below, left)

 

 

From this point a dozen or so steep switchbacks will take you to the edge of the treeline where you emerge to begin the most punishing portion of your ascent. Clearly visible cairns now mark the route up and over a seemingly endless, steep boulder field where you enter the tundra that leads up to a rocky ridge and the summit.
Above: 19th century cabin ruins - in background

Above: After emerging from the treeline, you get your first glimpse back at Lake Dillon.

During the relentless climb frequent stops will reward you with awesome views of Lake Dillon, the I-70 corridor, Silverthorne and the continental divide.

At the summit (12,777') look for Eccles Pass off to the west that leads down into Buffalo's backyard. Continue on past the summit and look for the hidden lake down the steep, rocky cliff to your left (east).

With some topo maps, which can be obtained at Weber's bookstore on Main St. in Breckenridge, you should be able to identify numerous fourteeners on a clear day. Grays & Torreys, Mt. Holy Cross and Mt. Elbert may be in view.

You may also be fortunate enough to be visited by a herd of mountain goats that frequents the area.

One word of caution, the trip down is almost as challenging as the ascent. On our most recent trek it took almost three hours to summit and nearly as long to return. This is not a stroll for those wearing tennis shoes but it will become very clear why the Summit County Explorers "Like to Be on Top"!!
Above: The relentless climb begins. Above: The climb continues up thru a seemingly endless boulderfield
Above: A family of mountain goats resting on the upper ridge.

Above: The last few steps up to the summit

Above: Summit at last - looking back out over the town and lake of Dillon

Above: Don't forget, conserve some energy for the steep descent down and back into the forest

 


"I LIKE TO BE ON TOP"
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  beginner intermediate advanced
    Black Powder Pass   Mohawk Lake   Quandary Peak  14,265'
    Lily Pad   Chihuahua Gulch   Lincoln & Bross 14,291' / 14,177'
    St. John's   Mt. Royal   Bierstadt Peak 14,060'
    Mayflower Gulch   Wheeler Lakes   Willow & Salmon Lakes
    Loveland Pass   Radical Hill Trail   Upper Crystal Lake
    Salt Lick Trail   McCullough Gulch   Gray's & Torrey's 14,278' / 14,267'
    Mesa Cortina Trail   Mt. Sniktau   Mt. Democrat 14,152'
    St. Mary's Glacier   North Ten Mile Trail   Mt. Victoria
    Sally Barber Mine   Willow Falls  

Mt. Elbert  14,433'

    Oro Grande Trail   Eaglesmere Lakes   Buffalo Mountain  12,777'
    Meadow Creek-Salt Lick   Mosquito Pass   Eccles Pass
    Shrine Mountain Trail   Webster Pass   Mt. Huron  14,003'
    Ptarmigan Trail   Ptarmigan via Wilder Gulch    
    Peaks Tr. Barton Gulch   Wheeler Lake - Park County    
    Hoosier Pass Loop   Lenawee Trail    

 

  Spruce Creek Loop   Nightmare on Baldy Mine    
    Tenderfoot Mountain Trail        
   

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Note: The Summit County Explorer website is for entertainment purposes only. SCE will not be held liable for the any accidents or injuries resulting from the activities listed on this site. Trail conditions change daily and we assume no responsibility for the safety of any individual during any of these activities. Please consult actual trail guides and maps before attempting any of the activities mentioned here.