Buffalo Creek … A Great Stop on Our Way Home
Our first job of the day was to get from Monument (on the outskirts of Colorado Springs) to the Buffalo Creek Trailhead. We used the “shortest route” option on Google Maps and soon found ourselves driving through little burgs and down dirt roads. One place we met a road grader coming down a muddy road right at us!
Originally, a guy from the MTBR forums was going to ride Buffalo Creek with me this day, but at the last minute he cancelled, saying his buddies had secretly planned to take him to Pikes Peak for his birthday. I am glad he mentioned Buffalo Creek (otherwise I would not have known to go there). Unfortunately, since I had been counting on him to lead me I had not made the effort to find out what trails I wanted to ride.
We stopped into the ranger station a couple hundred feet south of Buffalo Creek hoping to get some information on the trails.
We found a young ranger who gave us a map, then used a pen to highlight the best trails.
“Just turn left onto Buffalo Creek Road … that will get you to the trailhead. So turn left onto Road 543. That will bring you to the Gashouse Trail. You will do the trails in this order:
543 … Gashouse … Miller Gulch … Strawberry Jack … Charlie’s Cutoff … Homestead … Sandy Wash Loop.”
We left the ranger feeling pretty good about where to go and what to ride (for me) and hike (for Cindy).
Road Closed to All Traffic
But our confidence didn’t last long … for when we turned up Buffalo Creek Road we were immediately faced with a sign that read, “Road Closed to All Traffic … Except Residents.” We were pretty sure the ranger had said to go up Buffalo Creek Road … but now we had a few doubts.
After sitting there for a few moments discussing what we thought the ranger meant I said, “Well, let’s go up here a little bit and see what we find.”
A couple hundred yards later and we knew we were in the correct spot. We saw a porti-potti, several cars parked with bike racks, and several ice chests placed around a large table made out of an electrical spool. Cindy said, “I am not sure what is in those ice chests, but I can’t believe bears wouldn’t get into them.”
After a little prep I set off up Buffalo Creek Road … looking to make a left onto Road #543. After biking 3 miles the only left turn I saw was across the something called Nice Kitty Bridge (which I crossed but was sure was wrong since the ranger had said nothing about a bridge or Kitty!)
A Little Help From My Friends
So I rode all the way back to the trailhead to check with Cindy. Luckily, when I got back to the trailhead I found a mountain biker who had just finished riding. I rode over to his truck and asked him, “Hey, where Fire Road 543?”
He pointed over to the Buffalo Creek Road and said, “That is it right there.” I said, “What? The ranger told me to go up the Buffalo Creek and look for the 543 to the left … but I rode up there over three miles and have not seen any road to the left except someone’s private driveway.”
Before he said another word it finally it hit me … the 543 and the Buffalo Creek Road were the same thing … and when the ranger said to take the 543 to the left he meant that when I left the trailhead parking lot I was to take the 543 (the Buffalo Creek road) to get to Gashouse! “I am an idiot!” I told the rider. “Thanks so much!”
So I rode back up the 543 (also known as the Buffalo Creek Road) and easily found the Gashouse/Baldy Trail junction. I had not one problem reading signs the rest of the day.
I decided to take the Gashouse instead of the Baldy (another option the ranger had offered) as the rider at the trailhead had said Gashouse was a neat trail and would make my ride be around 20 miles instead of 15.
INTERACTIVE MAP FOR BUFFALO CREEK
- Click the blue “P” for driving directions to the trailhead.
- Click Tracks or Icons for More Specific Information.
Gashouse was a slow climbing singletrack snaking through a burned out forest. Eventually the trail began some serious incline after passing another trailhead. At the top of a hill I was rewarded with 360 degree views since there were no living trees.
Note* – I later learned Buffalo Creek had suffered a horrendous fire in 1996.
I found only one spot where the trail was so rough I couldn’t maneuver over the rocks. Just as I was carrying my bike over this section another biker approached from the rear. He also had to carry his bike over that section. I felt better since he looked like he might be a “semi-pro.” As he passed me he said he was on his second lap and hoped we wouldn’t get soaked. He said he had ridden the day before and had been, “dumped on.” This rider quickly pulled away from me as the Gashouse continued to climb.
Miller Gulch and Strawberry Jack were used as short connectors while Charlie’s Cut-off and Homestead were the best. Both trails were slightly downhill, and wound between and over some very large boulders. Both offered several opportunities for drops and jumps. All the trails I rode this day were nice, skinny singletrack.
Sandy Wash consisted of long, swooping switchbacks in sand (as the name implies). I was able to lean hard into the corners due to the moisture in the sand (from the previous day’s dump) and the large outside lugs on my Ground Control tires.
Sandy Wash dropped me back onto Buffalo Creek Road (#543) and in no time at all I was standing by the car at the Buffalo Creek Trailhead.
This ride gave me a 20+ mile loop that took a couple of hours … the perfect length so we could drive to Grand Junction that afternoon.
Buffalo Creek … One of the best in the world?
I don’t think so, unless I missed the best trails.
A great place to ride?
Will I come back?
I hope so.
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured … 47 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.
The following link can give you all the stats for this ride … just click on the box below.