Buffalo Peaks Saunter

A backpacking trip in the intimate Buffalo Peaks wilderness with someone.

Marriage is tough.

It involves compromise. Sharing your space with another person. Not necessarily being able to do what you want when you want.

My friend Garlic says  the first 25 years of marriage are the most difficult. After that it is easy!   🙂

I have been with someone for almost five years now. We have been married for just about two. We have a few more years to go.

We have fought.  Grumbled. Had some passionate arguments. And sometimes, not very often, we wondered about the choice we have made to be married.  Getting married closer to forty rather than thirty, when our personalities are really set, did not help matters.

Job burn out made me bring the frustration home more often than I care to admit. And earning a master’s degree while working full-time brought out another set of difficulties for my better half.

Not that all was difficult. We shared many trips together that brought  out of shared interest in history, culture and the outdoors.   We shared quiet campsites together. Family visits were done to Rhode Island and Germany…we had a better sense of where each of us came from. We also have created memories of our own.

It has been tough.

It has been enjoyable.

It has had the normal ebb and flows that most couples seem to have.

But some wonderful things happened in the past month or so.  I started a new job that is more intellectually challenging and fulfilling. someone finished her degree!

We have free time together on a regular basis again. We can grab dinner at a nearby brewery without worrying about a paper to write.  Or enjoy something as simple as watching the sunset together over the Boulder foothills from our small deck.

From an earlier time. The view..it does not suck.

And we had time to enjoy a backpacking trip together.

Our first in almost three years.

The chosen backpacking trip we would do together would be a very moderate loop of 11 miles and 2000′ gain in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness area not far from Fairplay, CO.

A small wilderness area known for its namesake peaks, this wilderness area also features lush and open meadows, ramblings creeks, aspen groves and a riot of wildflowers in peak season.

A perfect loop to take my better half on a long overdue backpacking trip.

We reached the Rich Creek Trailhead around mid-morning Saturday. I was a bit surprised at the amount of cars. But, then I remembered how close Colorado Springs, the southwest Denver suburbs and other areas were relatively speaking to this trail head.

So it goes along the increasingly crowded Front Range of Colorado.

Undeterred,  we hoisted our packs. I carried the bulk of the gear and made sure someone’ pack was on the very light side! 🙂

We ambled down the trail and enjoyed the moist feeling area along the creek. The wildflower displays were stupendous.

(Note: My DSLR went kaput. Luckily I had an iThingy I swapped in at the last-minute for photos. Not bad considering…)

After a brief climb, we took a breather. We carried on and soon reached a level and open meadow.

We entered the woods again and climbed up and down. Soon, Buffalo Meadows was reached. About the half-way point on the trip and the meadows had the bonus of being a great and scenic place to make camp.

The area was popular, but we found a place on a wooded and protected rise away from everyone.

Dinner was made. Hot drinks enjoyed. And a good book savored.

A relaxing evening.

The following morning, we were on the trail again after a leisurely (but reasonably early) breakfast.  Black coffee for me. Latte for someone. Cream of wheat with butter, almonds, dried cherries and some cinnamon for us both.  And enjoyed in the cool morning air overlooking the meadow.

The meadow and ridges above looked quite nice in the morning light.

We entered the woods again and exited the wilderness boundary.

The creeks, lush greenery, beaver ponds and rounded mountains reminded of scenery more of Maine or New Hampshire more so than Colorado.

We did one last short, but steep climb before descending through an aspen forest and then eventually back to the car.

The car was reached. Comfy cotton changed into. And a wonderful trip enjoyed together.  I am very certain another one will be enjoyed sooner rather than later!


If you should go….

  • The loop we did was the Rich Creek and Tumbling Creek loop. About 11 or so miles and 2000’+ gain.  A perfect trip for someone getting their trail legs that also happens to be beautiful.
  • A more challenging out-and-back can be made in conjunction with this loop. The namesake Buffalo Peaks are easy to get to with some rudimentary off-trail hiking. The connecting ridge looks awesome! Some other time…
  • Use your topo software of choice to create a map. The Leadville/Fairplay map from NatGeo should also work. The ridges and mountains are generally gentle enough where a 7.5′ topo is not absolutely needed (from what I can tell).
  • The town of Fairplay, CO is very close by. Allegedly the inspiration for the TV show South Park, is worth a quick pit stop for food. The Brown Burro Cafe is nothing fancy but had a really good breakfast burrito. The outside dining patio made the slower service (due to being VERY busy) rather pleasant actually. A cup of coffee, a pleasant area to sit and nothing to do on an early Sunday afternoon but talk to my someone? No worries…


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Dan Lee
Dan Lee
9 years ago

Thanks for the report… I’m probably one of many that lurk around your and the BPL websites. I plan to do this loop with my scouts in the next couple of months and everything I’ve heard is positive for some little, newbie legs. To my real question… I’m taking my 19-yr old out in three weeks, we live in CO Springs, did the 4-Pass loop last summer in 2.5 days and are looking for another ~25 mile loop. Thinking Mummy Range, Rahwah or Prisbee Park area. Would rather avoid RMNP crowds… I’ve not done any off-trail backpacking so a bit… Read more »

Brad S.
Brad S.
9 years ago

Paul, we met on on the Wild Basin trip with Andrew. Great to hear your career/position change is having a positive outcome. So the grass sometimes is greener on the other side!

I would love to get back to RMNP in the future and will be using your trip reports as a resource. Thanks for posting.

Randy Martin
Randy Martin
9 years ago

I have done that same loop trip as well as a day hike of the both East/West Buffalo peaks last October. Beautiful area. There is also a 28 mile or so big loop you can do in that same wilderness that completely circles the two peaks starting from the same trailhead as you did. Lovely area.

7 years ago

Typically without fail as I research trips I find that you were in the area at one time or another. Thanks for this report. Have you ever accessed this area or BPW starting at Buffalo Peaks TH and taken the Salt Creek trail south to create a bigger loop?

7 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

I plan to hit it this weekend for a laid back loop of the area with my son, a friend and his son. Hoping the snow will have disappeared for the most part with the heat of the past week. Thanks for all the great information you share. I enjoy your perspectives.

Curt K
Curt K
7 years ago

Bug report?

My wife and I are thinking of a first backpacking trip for our family (kids 8, 11, 17). This Buffalo Peaks loop looks really good. How are the mosquitos? We’d be going soon, mid-August.

More than by the way, thanks *very* much for this site.