If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Buffalo Creek

Our original weekend plans had been to head up to Twin Lakes Friday night after work, catch a few winks in the Pilot, head into Aspen for a lope on the Government Trail, do some window shopping in downtown Aspen for the afternoon, head back over Independence Pass in the evening, get our zzz's overnight in the Pilot, again, do a scenic cruise along the shores of Turquoise Lake on Sunday morning, then head home. The weather forecast didn't look real stellar in the mountains for the weekend, so we decided to save our time, miles, and money for another time. Consequently, a change of plans . . .
We decided to head up to one of our all time favorite mountain bike areas - Buffalo Creek. This awesome network of trails is about an 80 minute drive from our house and is a mountain biker's paradise. We have thought it could potentially be a trail runner's paradise, also. With well over 50 miles of trail, the centerpiece for this gem is the Colorado Trail. Today we avoided the Colorado Trail proper due to its tendency to be a literal bike freeway on the weekends and stayed on the connecting trails to the north. We have done many epic 30 mile mountain bike rides here over the years - I think we may have even eeked out a 40 miler or two - and have been anxious to get a new look at the fabulous trails on foot. Today was our start.

***A little history, as you will see in the photos - This area has been scarred by several horrendous forest fires. The first major one was in '96 and nearly 12000 acres were burned across an 11 mile path. That was followed by mudslides that almost destroyed one of Denver's major watersheds. The area was also subject to fire in 2000 and again in 2002, when it was affected by the Hayman Fire - the largest in Colorado history. That fire burned 138,000 acres and 133 homes were lost. While it was spooky coming back to the charred forest after the fires, we now have an appreciation for the sometimes "lunar" landscape in parts of this area. It continues to be a wonderfully beautiful area in spite of the burn spots.
The first few miles are on a non-motorized two-track dirt road. Kathleen is enjoying the sound of the rushing Buffalo Creek. Most of the start is through a lush canyon. Parralleling the creek, the trees give way to this view below - showing the effects of the 1996 fire.
From the same photo vantage point above, Steve turned to snap the below pic of Kathleen at the start of the Gashouse/Baldy trail intersection. We get to head up the trail into the trees.

Steve cruising along the pristine Baldy Trail.
A shot of Kathleen a little farther up Baldy. Another burn area - notice the burn line up the hillside behind her.
Still climbing and back into the forest.
Slickrock, Baldy style. It looks flat but it is a fairly steep pitch.
Did we mention there are miles and miles of sinuous, flowing ribbons of pristine singletrack???!!!
. . . and more of the same with gorgeously blooming wildflowers. Trail eye candy!
A meadow along the Sandy Wash Trail.
Some of the lunar landscape singletrack. Still awesome.
Driving home with a view of the backside of Pikes Peak.

We ended the day with an awesome 14.5 mile loop. We had expected this area to be good trail running and we certainly weren't disappointed! We have been fortunate to mountain bike many areas over the years and are now having tons of fun re-exploring some of those areas on foot. Old trails are new again! Plus, we will be on the hunt for some new stash as well. Happy trails this week!

Shoes: S - Asics Gel Trabuco
K - Montrail Odyssey
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