Hiking Trails Near Hartsel, Colorado


Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area is just outside of Hartsel, Colorado. Here you will find secluded and remote hiking trails for both day trips and overnight backpacking trips. 

And guess what? Few people know about the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area, which means you’ll get to find some solitude. Great for birdwatching, deer and moose sightings, and breathtaking views of lush green forest and misty meadows. 

Breathe in. 

Can you smell the fresh Rocky Mountain air, now? 

After reading this article, you will be ready to pack your bags and head for the hills. 

Buffalo Meadows via Rich Creek Trailhead

The Buffalo Peaks Wilderness loop is ideal for overnight backpacking trips or even a day trip if you’re feeling ambitious. The ideal treck spans 2-nights stay. It’s best to slow down and take in the diverse landscape and scenic views of this hidden gem. 

The trail makes a loop by connecting the Rich Creek Trail and the Tumble Creek Trail. This remote and less-traveled path is the perfect escape to find solitude and retreat into nature. 

Sightings of birds, deer, sheep, and other wildlife are frequent. Another draw for this trail is for fishing. 

At the start of the trail, aspen forests speckle the landscape. There’s a rocky trail with a mild incline leading into a lodgepole pine forest. 

Nestled around the Collegiate Peaks makes for great pictures. The trail winds through a diverse landscape of trickling creeks, lush old-growth forests, vistas, and wetlands.

The middle of the trail opens up to a peaceful meadow nestled in a valley with wetlands. 

It’s worth getting up early, sunrise and sunset are magnificent. 

Dogs: Pack-up your four-legged friends; Dogs are welcome to hike here. 

Distance: 12.6 miles (20.28 km)

Trail Type: Loop

Trail Head Elevation: 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 

Net Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft (670.56 m)

Features: backcountry camping, waterfalls, wildlife, birdwatching, big-game watching, big vistas, old-growth forest, wildflowers

Buffalo Peaks and Salt Creek Trail Loop 

Buffalo Peaks and Salt Creek Trail Loop is a 29.4-mile loop. Great for backpacking treks. (If you’re looking to take a day hike, there are several connecting trails.) This trail has an elevation gain of 4,400 vertical feet. 

The trail loops around two 13,000 foot peaks called Buffalo Peaks. The Buffalo Peaks area is a rare geological area. These are two highly eroded extinct volcanic mountains. 

Along the trail, there are plenty of photo opportunities of the snow-covered mountain tops.  

The landscape is vast with waterfalls, fresh mountain creeks, green conifers, aspen forests, wildflowers, and rolling grass meadows. 

Need to Know

There are multiple tricky creek crossings along this trail. High water levels will depend on the time of year, and snow runoff. Tie up your waterproof hiking boots and bring an extra pair of socks. 

Dogs: This trail is dog-friendly with lots of drinking water along the path. 


Buffalo Peaks Wilderness is a hidden gem. Several trails connect and wrap around the area. Ideal for hiking, backpacking, and enjoy nature. 

Because of the low traffic and remote location, nature is working hard to maintain balance and harmony within the ecosystems. 

These are fragile plant and wildlife areas. Please practice Leave No Trace. This helps preserve the land for generations to come. 

Are you Interested in Buying Land in Colorado? 

Owning Land in Colorado is a great way to connect with nature. Conserve the land for the next generation. Are you an avid Hiker? Having property can ensure that you have a place to stay between day hikes or backpacking trips. 

We love helping people, just like you, invest in property in Colorado. Click here to learn more about Avannah Properties. 

Additional Resources


Buffalo Meadows via Rich Creek Trail Loop

All Trails – Pictures and hiker comments


Outdoor Project


The OutBound Collective


US Forest Service Website


Buffalo Peaks and Salt Creek Trail Loop

Stuck in the Rockies


The Virtual Sherpa


The Hiking Project


Other Resources 

Leave No Trace


Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop – US Forest Service Website


Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area


Buenavista Colorado – More Hiking Trails