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Level: Intermediate
Length: 20 mi (32.2 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +1,130/1 ft
Total: 74 riders

Mountain Biking Colorado Trail: South Platte To Buffalo Creek

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#186 of 1,346 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#1,420 in the world

The initial climb out of the parking lot is by far the hardest part of this section of the Colorado Trail. Within the past several years, a re-routed portion of trail was created and if you carry a map with you, it might show the trail going northwest, instead of the correct southwest. However, the trail is very well marked and easy to follow. Once the initial mile or so of climbing on pea gravel is out of the way, the degree of steepness does ease up somewhat, although this trail continues gradually upward for many more miles. While we were prepared to do some climbing, this section of the CT really kept it coming.

Luckily, the grade is never too steep so that you should be able to grind up most of this trail. The first 1/3 of this trail is burned out from a recent forest fire, and is quite interesting to ride through. The second 1/3 of the trail is normal forest, while the last 1/3 is back in the burn zone (you will cross a fire road at one point, and although the trail has no markers on the other side, you DO want to cross the road and continue on the singletrack). The last 1/3 is definitely more level, although you will encounter a variety of ups and downs and at times, some very fast singletrack! The final mile from Hwy 126 to the Little Scraggy Trailhead (where many park for rides into Buffalo Creek area) is nice and flat doubletrack.

The trip back from Little Scraggy is where this section of trail really shines. On the return, your first 1/3 is fun ups and downs, the middle 1/3 has one short uphill section which will be the last of the climbing for the day...and the last 1/3 is pure downhill for what seems like forever! This is payback for all the climbing you had to do on the way in... None of this trail is particularly technical, and most of it is well traveled and well worn. Naturally you can get some pretty good speed going since your visibility in the burn zone is fairly distant.

You will need to bring as much water as you can, especially in the summer months, as there are no water sources on this section of trail. If all goes wrong, you can bail out on Hwy 126 and head down the hill back to the "town" of Buffalo Creek (and take the gravel road back to your car). If you have a water filter, you can water up at that point. However, all effort should be made to ride this trail in both directions, as the return back down the hill is really worthwhile. Set aside 3-4 hours to do the entire route. More if you like to stop, enjoy the scenery, etc.

First added by Siberian on Jan 6, 2005. Last updated May 1, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
The trailhead is at a place called South Platte, although this is really just a parking area rather than a village. The easiest way to get there is probably Hwy 285 to Pine Junction, then Hwy 126 to Buffalo Creek, then make a left down the gravel road (following the river) and head east/se for about 10 miles. The trailhead is well marked, and there is a pedestrian bridge and outhouse at the trailhead.
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Colorado Trail: South Platte To Buffalo Creek Trail map

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Matt Miller (on Apr 30, 2022)
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Good (on Jun 21, 2021)
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  • mongwolf

    Rode out and back, starting from the South Platte THD. It is certainly a rigorous climb the first mile and really the first 5 miles. A very good workout. After you cross the dirt road (Raleigh Peak Road) at about 6 miles heading west, the ride mellows out a lot the rest of the way to the Little Scraggy THD. The return ride (west to east), is a cruiser with just a couple of shorts climbs worth noting ... and A LOT of nice downhill. Definitely some good payback for all your work riding east to west. If you are only going to ride this segment one way, it would definitely be west to east. Also, the trail west of Hwy 126 is really not worth riding imo. Much of it is basically a dirt road with lots of sand. I would just start from Hwy 126. All in all, this is a nice ride and worth the drive and time.

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  • vbeckman74

    This section is a fast, smooth down hill if you start at Buffalo Creek. It goes through much of the burnt Hayman Fire area, so bring your sun block.

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  • stoldt

    Wow really tough out. It took me 3 hours out and 1 1/2 back. The back made the out well worth it. Also got to chat with a bunch of crazies hiking the entire 500+ mile trail. Really cool scenery, lots of elevation +/-. Fun ride, nothing to technical.

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  • pdinsurance

    Epic ride, Started at buffalo creek and rode about 6 miles past south platte, although comming back felt like alot of climbing. It was hot and exposed. A little sandy and loose in spots. Trail was very well marked

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  • petersbike

    Just rode the trail the other day, and the singletrack is smooth and fast. Also it was the most beautiful trail I,ve ridden in years. Travelling through the burn zones, there is an abundance of wildflowers that will blow your mind. Have fun.

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  • Scopebite

    As that last guy said- Bring as much water as you can carry. I reccomend to hit this one in the Mornig as it will be alot cooler. The first part is really open and you are going to bake like a cake in the sun. After the initial climb it is alot of fun and the payoff ride back to the car is well worh it.

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  • warrubi

    The initial climp from the start of the trail is about 3 miles until it levels off somewhat. Like mentioned before bring as much water as you can carry in the summer months. After the first 3 miles the trail is a fun single track ride.

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