Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More Wonderful Hikes Near Buena Vista, CO

Recently I wrote a post describing the two mountain ranges that flank Buena Vista, CO in the San Isabel National Forest. Since we're staying in BV for two weeks, lots more hiking is on the docket...and we have found some beauties!

Kroenke Lake

Kroenke Lake is an eight mile round trip, but is one of the gentlest ascents to 11,500 feet we've ever experienced. And beautiful too! This was the perfect time of year to do this hike; lots of little streams running down the mountain, lots of wildflowers scattered along the trail. Due to monsoon season the last quarter mile or so back to the truck was hiked in the rain.

This trail is popular for both day hikers and those wanting to access the wilderness for backpacking trips. We hiked this trail on Sunday of 4th of July weekend and met a lot of backpackers coming out.

One of the prettiest streams I have ever seen!

Kroenke Lake under a darkening sky.
Beaver pond in the Kroenke Lake basin.

Seen on a Buena Vista ranch.

Buffalo Meadows

The Buffalo Meadows trail lies in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness to the East of Buena Vista. This mountain range is quite a bit drier than the mountains to the West of town. But this particular trail happens to follow a small creek (four mile creek) that is riddled with beaver dams. The trail first winds in and out of aspen groves, conifer forests and meadows studded with beaver dams. Then there is a serious climb for a mile or so to a saddle just West of the Buffalo Peaks that brings you to 11,500 feet and some wonderful  long distance views.

The last mile to the trail head was a four wheel drive road and this may be why the trail seemed to be very lightly traveled. We hiked this on a Monday and never saw another person on the trail. We hoped to see large mammals since we were so remote, but alas saw only a couple of amphibians.

Looking South from the saddle through layers of mountains and building clouds.

Looking North from the saddle into Buffalo Meadows.
An endangered Boreal Toad.

On our way back down the mountain we paid closer attention to all the beaver dams and many of them seemed to be abandoned.

Old beaver dam, no longer holding any water.
This was one of probably a dozen abandoned beaver dams we saw.

Lots of old beaver cut tree stumps.
Another old, overgrown, empty beaver dam.

We stopped to observe another possible beaver site about a mile from the trail head and happened to look down the slope we were standing on and to our great surprise we saw freshly chewed tree stumps! We were so happy to see that the beavers were still active in the area!

Fresh beaver activity!

Someday I'd like to catch a beaver in action!

We're happy to be spending two weeks in Buena Vista, it's a gorgeous area with a great variety of trails. We've had a bit of rain most afternoons or evenings, cooling us down and freshening the place up. I think we landed here at the perfect time of year...though I hear the fall is really pretty, we may just have to come through here again for a comparison!


  1. Looks like you found another bonanza. Love the stream with the pink flowers. They look like some kind of lily--not familiar with this wildflower. Two questions: what are they daytime highs and are there mosquitoes? I think you mentioned them in an earlier post but I was thinking maybe it is drier here.

    1. Daytime highs in Buena Vista have been running around 80. But hiking up at 10,000 ft and higher we start out in the 60's and end in the 70's.

      We have seen mosquito's on all of our hikes in these mountains, I suppose due to all of the streams...even on the drier East side mountains. We have been using a non-deet spray called Natrapel and it seems to keep them away pretty well.