view near bison peak

Roadtrip to the Rockies: Bison Peak

How to Reach Bison Peak

There are several great hikes along the 285 corridor in Colorado.  A few of my favorites are Shelf Lake, Abyss Lake and Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, by my recent hike to Bison Peak.

Bison Peak is located 21 miles down County Road 77 off of Hwy 285.  It takes an 11.7 mile roundtrip and 3,740 feet of elevation gain to reach the 12,500 foot summit.

Ute Creek Trail

The Ute Creek Trail begins by crossing a creek and then passes through a meadow as it parallels the county road before it turns into the forest.  The first 1.5 miles is relatively flat, only gaining 500 feet.  The next 3 miles gain 2,000 feet through a dry, southwestern forest dotted with a few wildflowers. 

Honestly, aside from spotting a bunny rabbit, this section of the hike, without any water features, was somewhat boring to me and very hot upon my return.

Brookside McCurdy Trail

What makes the trek spectacular is the last 1.5 miles after joining Brookside McCurdy Trail.  The pink granite path enters onto a giant saddle featuring a high alpine meadow with an expansive rock garden.  The combination of cold wind and bright sun turned the sap on the pine cones into crystals.

To get to Bison Peak, however, hikers must veer off the trail to left and wander through the boulders to the highest peak.  It is very helpful to have AllTrails with a mapped route at this point as the way is faint at times. 

I almost stopped to just explore all the rock crevices where I found a marmot and chipmunk and considered myself having reached the summit since the rock piles seemed around the same height, but ultimately, I continued to Bison Peak.  I’m so glad I did, as I found a USGS survey benchmark at the top along with a geocache and a collapsed wooden structure.

panoramic view from Bison Peak

Who knew this particular pile of rocks would be so special!  In addition, the peak affords a stunning 360⁰ view.  It was truly fantastic and well worth the slog up the mountain.  I’d highly recommend adding Bison Peak to your Colorado hiking list.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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