If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly “S24O” (sub-24hr overnight) bikepacking adventure near Denver or Boulder, look no further than Buffalo Creek, a trail system located near the city of Pine, CO. Buffalo Creek’s sandy climbs, swooping descents and magnificent views offer plenty of action for advanced riders, without being too intimidating for someone on their first bikepacking trip. We bikepacked a short 20-mile loop here in mid-March on a weekend where weather was 75+ and sunny.
Buffalo Creek is located just off Hwy 285, a short 10-mile drive from the exit near Pine, CO. The Buffalo Creek trailhead gives you great access to a spaghetti-work of bi-directional trail options, though many have a ‘preferred’ direction. We found the trailmap at comba.org to be a great resource. We’d recommend hanging your first left onto “Nice Kitty”, which snakes South toward “Buffalo Burn” before terminating at Segment 3 of the Colorado Trail. Once you’re on the CT, you’ll be treated to a fast, root-heavy descent with plenty of line options to pick from depending on your appetite. Please be aware when descending that this is a popular trail and shared by other bikers and thru-hikers, so make sure to sound a bell (if you have one) around all blind corners. It’s also worth noting that when weather is good, the trailhead will be busy – however, an overnight stay on Segment 3 of the Colorado trail gives you access to near-empty trails the next morning!
There are plenty of campsite opportunities along the Colorado Trail (about halfway through the ride), but we found westernmost section to have the best tent sites and water access. Just past the Green Mountain loop, but before you hit FR550, you’ll find a few large sites near the fire road with room for 3-4 tents. Unfortunately, you’ll be within earshot of ATV’ers using the road and nearby shooting ranges, but in-between the interruptions, it’s a nice location with easy access back onto the trail. In the morning, cross over the road and pick up the Redskin Creek trail on your left. Then, hang a right onto Gashouse trail for a speedy singletrack descent with incredible views of the tree-dotted valley. When the trail ends, you can choose to climb back up Baldy (on your left) to access more singletrack or grab FR538 back to the parking lot for an easy morning.
Before you visit the Buffalo Creek trail system for your overnight, familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace principles. The Colorado Trail offers excellent dispersed camping, but our continued enjoyment of these locations is contingent upon people like yourself practicing responsible back-country etiquette. Be a good bikepacker – follow these principles at all times.
Ideas on multi-day loops or better singletrack routes in this area? Drop a line in the comments or get in touch on our About Page.