Buchanan Pass Trail

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Buchanan Pass Trail #910

From the Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead, the Buchanan Pass Trail runs west along the north side of Middle Saint Vrain Creek. It is a gradual climb for the next five miles to the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary. Close to here, the Buchanan Pass Trail intersects the Saint Vrain Mountain Trail.

The Buchanan Pass Trail continues up-valley for just under one mile to intersect with Saint Vrain Glacier Trail. The Buchanan Pass Trail crosses the creek and hooks to the south. The half-mile spur trail to Red Deer Lake intersects after another 1.1 miles.

Another 0.8 miles beyond this spur, the Buchanan Pass trail meets Beaver Creek Trail. From this intersection, the Buchanan Pass Trail climbs steeply west to the Continental Divide at Buchanan Pass (elevation 11,837′). There have been years in which this pass is never clear of snow. From the pass, ten miles of trail continues west and connects with the Cascade Creek Trail.

Permit Info: Part of this trail lies within the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:

  • Camping permits required for all overnight trips between June 1 and September 15. Overnight permits cost $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round. Day-hiking permits are free.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Motorized vehicles prohibited. Camping is prohibited along the first half-mile of trail west of Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead. On those portions of Buchanan Pass Trail within the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Indian Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:

  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires prohibited.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12 (people and livestock combined).

Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Closest Towns: Allenspark, Colorado
Water: Middle Saint Vrain Creek; treat water for drinking
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301

Directions: Approximately 6.5 miles north of Ward, Colorado, on Colorado Highway 72, watch for signs for Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick Campgrounds. Turn west onto Middle Saint Vrain Road (County Road 92 and National Forest System Road 114) and proceed 1.25 miles to the west end of Camp Dick.

Mountain Biking

The first five miles of Buchanan Pass Trail, from Peaceful Valley west to the Indian Peaks boundary are open to mountain biking. It is possible to ride a loop from Peaceful Valley or Camp Dick via Buchanan Pass Trail and Middle Saint Vrain Road or Coney Cutoff and Coney Creek Roads and Sourdough Trail.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult

River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking and Backpacking

This trail is ten miles long from Peaceful Valley Campground to Buchanan Pass. The first seven miles climb gently along the Middle Saint Vrain Creek. The trail becomes much steeper as it makes the approach to Buchanan Pass on the Continental Divide. Destinations include Saint Vrain Mountain, Saint Vrain Glaciers, Red Deer Lake and Buchanan Pass. This trail intersects Sourdough Trail, Saint Vrain Mountain Trail, Saint Vrain Glaciers Trail, and Beaver Creek Trail. From Buchanan Pass, the trail continues west to Cascade Creek Trail.

Fire Information On portions of this trail within the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, campfires are prohibited year-round. Where allowed, and unless seasonal restrictions are in effect, campfires must be attended at all times and cold to the touch with the bare hand before being abandoned. Collection of dead and down wood is allowed; do not break branches from standing trees for firewood.
Elevation desc This trail climbs 1,600 feet in the last two miles from its intersection with Beaver Creek Trail to Buchanan Pass
Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult
Area/Length : 
From the Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead to: Buchanan Pass Trailhead – 3.8 miles; Red Deer Lake – 6.9 m


  • Trail Measurement: 3.8 and 6.9 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 400600N
  • Compass Longitude: 1053502W
  • Numeric Latitude: 40.099986
  • Numeric Longitude: -105.58389
  • Elevation in Meters: 2,621 to 3,607
  • Elevation in Feet: 8,600 to 11,837

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