Outbound Collective logo

Backpack the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop

Buena Vista, Colorado

based on 3 reviews



11.7 miles

Elevation Gain

2000 ft

Route Type



Added by Adrien Patanè

Colorado's Spring & early Summer hiking at its best - this underrated gem traverses the little known Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, forming a loop that spans open meadows, gorgeous forests and rushing creeks. Even better there's a good chance you'll find solitude in whats considered one of the best overnight hikes in the region.

Starting at the Rich Creek Campground this wonderful moderate hike forms a loop by connecting the Rich Creek Trail and the Tumble Creek trail. in the Buffalo Peaks wilderness.

Flanked by the Collegiate Peaks, in Spring and Summer the area is awash with rushing creeks, lush wet lowlands & deep green forests.  The scenery along the hike varies widely & with only moderate traffic you may have much of the view to yourself.

Whilst the loop can certainly be completed in a long day, its best to break it up over 2 days, take your time and enjoy the stunning scenery.

There are various campsites spread along the loop & depending on which way you take the hike, (counter-clockwise is most common) you can generally find one easily enough.  One of the best locales is Buffalo Meadows - pretty much in the middle of the loop, with expansive views over the verdant green landscape.

Access to water generally isn't a problem with many creeks along the route, and there are good water sources near the Buffalo Meadows campsites.

Sunrise and sunsets here are especially gorgeous, the early morning Sun filtering through the low lying mist is exceedingly beautiful and well worth the effort getting up early for.  

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app



Backpack the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop Reviews

We backpacked about 6.5 miles from the trailhead before setting up camp in the trees in between a meadow and lake. Finished the rest of the loop the next day. We saw a lot of people camped within the first few miles, but after that no one. Spotted a moose across the meadow late in the evening and we had one come through camp while we slept (read: tried to sleep, but sat awake trying to figure out what was outside the tent. Ha!). In the morning we found the tracks and confirmed it was indeed a moose that came to visit. While we were wandering around in the forest near camp we noticed scratch marks from bears on some of the trees. Great place to see wildlife, they are active here!

Hiked the whole trail 6/16/19 and saw more wildlife than people. I saw moose, elk and deer and saw only one group of people. There were some points where i lost the trail due to snowmelt and there is still a fair amount of snow about 6 miles in. I would say another couple of weeks to be snow free but it was very soggy plan for your feet to get completely wet. Think thigh deep river crossings at couple different point.

Such a great backpacking loop. The trail is quite short and easy for an overnighter, and the camping spots halfway around the loop in the high alpine meadow are beautiful. Camp 2 nights and summit the Buffalo Peaks 13ers if you want more of a challenge.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Climb Horseshoe Mountain via Boudoir Couloir

Hike to the Historical Interlaken Resort

Hike Mount Sherman

Ski or Snowshoe to the Weston Pass Hut

Hike Davis Meadow

Stay the Night in an Off-Grid Cabin in Fairplay, CO