Peak(s):  West Buffalo Pk  -  13,326 feet
East Buffalo Pk  -  13,300 feet
Post Date:  09/03/2010
Date Climbed:   09/01/2010
Posted By:  luckyzsquirrel

 Buffalo Peaks, unlike any other mosquito   

Class: 1 on the approach, 2 to 2+ on the peaks.
Exposure: minimal unless you cross right on the connecting ridge
Total gain: ROUGHLY 3400'
Time Not pushing myself: 2.5hrs to E buffalo, 1hr to West, 2.5hrs back to start.

Most of the Mosquito's have a pretty similar character, the Buffalo's however really don't even feel like they belong. While most of the range are on a pretty much continuous ridge on the edge of a fold that makes southpark the Buffalo's are volcanic in origin, and isolated from the rest of the range.
These peaks are a great climb, and offer the best summit view of the Sawatch Range I've yet seen.


Hopefully I can describe the route well enough as to be some help.

Armed with only a topo and a very basic description of the route I headed down US 285 to Forest Road 431. It's roughly 12 miles south of Fairplay and getting close to the junction with US 24.

Follow the road up just over 8 miles where you go around a tighter turn and you'll see an unofficial campsite with some room to park. Just a little back you'll see the remains of an old road blocked by a gate. This is where I started.
"Trailhead" Sorry its blurry.


Head down the road a short ways where you'll encounter a single track that goes up the hill to the left. Follow it until crossing an other old road until you hit a very prominent old road. Staying on the other road MIGHT also work but I'm not positive where it goes.
The old road

Follow the old road all the way to its end. Some smaller roads intersect, but stay on the most defined one and you'll be fine. The road ends in the trees just before a clearing (though you can't see a clearing at this point). If you have a GPS (I didn't) this might be a good place to add a waypoint as you can't see the road on your descent.
The end of the road

Head south up hill to a clearing. The peaks are well in view. Some short bushwacking through willows gets you to a nice grassy slope.
Rocks or Willows, your pick.

From here head up to the low point east of E Buffalo Pk.
E Buffalo. Hike to saddle on the left

Once reaching the low point head up the "backside" of E Buffalo to the summit. Its class 2 to upper class 2 from this point out until you're off W Buffalo. The route is not that difficult, but the boulder field terrain takes some time.
backside of E Buffalo

Some great views to the east and all around is your reward (though the best west views are yet to come).
Antero Res. Pikes on horizon

Heading over to W Buffalo is the worst terrain of the hike. I hiked a little down from the ridge on the S side (the north side is a sheer face).
W Buff from East Buff

Looking back at EB from lowpoint on connecting ridge

On the ridge.

From the top of W Buffalo you get an amazing view of the entire Sawatch Range as well as a great view of the Arkansas River Valley. With the possible exceptions of Belford, Missouri and Huron every 14er in the Sawatch is visible. It was a very hazy day when I climbed and I could still make them out.

From WB. Arkansas Valley, Shavano and Tab., Antero, Princton

Princton, Yale, Columbia, Harvard

Harvard, Missouri, Huron in back?, La Plata, Elbert

Elbert, Massive, Holy Cross barely visible on right

EB from WB

Buena Vista

The return. One option would to be returning the way you came, but it makes a lot more sense to make a loop out of it. Head west off W Buffalo's summit to where it flattens out a bit and start looping your way back to the end of the old road.

Descending WB's west slope

The way back. See the road you came in on? I couldn't either

There is no trail, and going "blind" through the woods is required, but thankfully there is little undergrowth so not much bushwacking, just a lot of log hopping. And there are some excellent pack trails to follow. Thanks Elk!

Pack trail

Thanks for the trails guys!

First yellow leaves

where the single track hits the road

Going straight to the old road would take you down to a creek than back up again. To avoid un-needed gain I recommend dropping to around 11650' and going around the rim gradually dropping. As long as you drop to 11500 by the time you are north of E Buffalo you'll hit the road. If you drop lower you'll just hit it further down. The topo map does show another closed road, that leads back at an even lower elevation, but I can't speak for it.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Cool trip report!     09/03/2010 13:46
Thanks for turning me on to another couple peaks in the Mosquito Range. I guess I'll have to add them to my ”long” list.

Happy Trails!


THANK YOU!     09/03/2010 15:03
5-star trip report! This is the very climb and route that I've thought about doing for a few weeks, but I was unsure about the route. Your information and photos are very helpful!


Interesting ...     09/03/2010 17:24
What a different perspective ... we did these from the west side. Thanks for posting. Nice looking elk. Happy trails!


Very Nice!!!!!     09/04/2010 04:38
Awesome Tour de Buffalo TR.......I have looked at these peaks for a while and wanted to learn more info on the two........thank you so much for the info....

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