Vail, CO: Red Buffalo Pass

Explore Colorado's Gore Range on this 12.4-mile shuttle hike that begins in Vail, crosses Red Buffalo Pass, and drops into Silverthorne.

Day 1: Drop a car off at the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead in Silverthorne, then drive to the Gore Creek Trailhead in east Vail. From the trailhead, hike east on a narrow dirt path that parallels Gore Creek. The route climbs steadily as it travels through small meadows and fragrant forest. Less than 2 miles in, cross Deluge Creek on a narrow log footbridge and continue east. After 4.2 miles, hike past the graves of Andrew and Daniel Recen, who died in 1912 and 1917, and turn right. Cross Gore Creek on a log jam and continue another 0.7 mile to an expansive meadow rimmed by rugged peaks. Spend the night here.
Day 2: Climb 2.3 miles to the top of Red Buffalo Pass, a broad and grassy saddle with striking views of Buffalo Mountain and Red Peak. From here, descend grass-covered slopes into the South Willow Creek drainage. The trail skirts the northern slopes of Buffalo Mountain before leaving the South Willow Creek drainage at mile 10.6. The final 1.7 miles of the trip travel southeast; you'll cross a handful of creeks and encounter one last climb that ascends through open forest. The route ends at the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead; pick up your shuttle car and return to the Gore Creek Trailhead.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 20.0



Location: 39.627796, -106.275076

Drop a car off at the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead in Silverthorne, then drive to the Gore Creek Trailhead in Vail. Follow the Gore Creek Trail to the northeast.


Location: 39.628539, -106.273294

Bear right at Y-junction. The Deluge Lake Trail veers left.


Location: 39.629581, -106.261858

The trail travels near Gore Creek (look for a series of cascades ahead).


Location: 39.630044, -106.258553

The trail curves to the south and enters conifer forest.


Location: 39.629052, -106.25637

Good campsite by river.


Location: 39.629008, -106.24793

Pass raspberry bushes along the trail.


Location: 39.628945, -106.246741

Cross a narrow, split log bridge.


Location: 39.626565, -106.225026

High bushes flank both sides of the trail.


Location: 39.625243, -106.220155

Look west for views of Gore Creek and the wooded valley.


Location: 39.625111, -106.20477

Bear right at Y-junction and cross Gore Creek on a log jam. Side trip: Turn left to visit the graves of Andrew and Daniel Recen.


Location: 39.625202, -106.204909

A worn log marks the graves of Andrew and Daniel Recen.


Location: 39.625546, -106.193856

This sprawling meadow is a prime location for a campsite.


Location: 39.621417, -106.188655

The trail skirts an expansive meadow on the left.


Location: 39.620111, -106.186112

Pass a potential campsite in the trees.


Location: 39.617594, -106.183807

This massive boulder offers sweet views to the west.


Location: 39.621728, -106.176399

Red Buffalo Pass: This grassy pass overlooks the Gore Creek drainage and the South Willow Creek drainage. Next, drop down the east side of the pass.


Location: 39.618813, -106.174101

Bear left off the trail, heading east.


Location: 39.619472, -106.170646

Pick up the trail and hike north.


Location: 39.623326, -106.168785

Cross a cascading creek.


Location: 39.628418, -106.152488

Cross a bridge.


Location: 39.630177, -106.136137

Stay straight at 3-way junction.


Location: 39.631555, -106.135024

Pass through aspen groves.


Location: 39.63244, -106.130902

Continue straight, heading east.


Location: 39.632432, -106.127543

Turn right at 3-way junction.


Location: 39.631366, -106.126792

Cross 3 bridges in the next 200 feet.


Location: 39.627631, -106.12778

An old ditch parallels the trail.


Location: 39.627358, -106.123198

Tackle a final steep stretch that climbs through the trees.


Location: 39.625374, -106.121808

At the top of the climb, the trail crosses a boulder field.


Location: 39.623534, -106.119251

Continue straight at 4-way.


Location: 39.620193, -106.109937

The route ends at Buffalo Cabin Trail. Pick up your shuttle car at the parking pull-out and drive back to the Gore Creek Trailhead.


Location: 39.619732, -106.110238

Park your shuttle car in the parking pull-out on the side of the road.

View of the Gore Range

Location: 39.626467, -106.22395

Gore Creek Trailhead

Location: 39.627807, -106.275038

Eastern Views on Gore Creek Trail

Location: 39.629145, -106.268

Views East on Gore Creek Trail

Location: 39.629987, -106.253964

Log Bridge

Location: 39.628961, -106.246462

Gore Range

Location: 39.626467, -106.22395

Gore Creek Trail

Location: 39.625467, -106.221485

Views West on Gore Creek Trail

Location: 39.625268, -106.219854

Quiet Forest

Location: 39.624437, -106.20903

The Recen Graves

Location: 39.625259, -106.204619

The Recen Graves

Location: 39.625226, -106.204791


Location: 39.624921, -106.205349

Rocky Outcrop

Location: 39.624978, -106.20522

Trail Junction

Location: 39.625102, -106.20463


Location: 39.62554, -106.193751


Location: 39.625416, -106.193612


Location: 39.625309, -106.193579

Meadow below Red Buffalo Pass

Location: 39.620153, -106.186684

Gore Creek

Location: 39.620153, -106.186684

View from Rock Outcrop

Location: 39.617582, -106.183698

Gore Range

Location: 39.61745, -106.181445

Views near Red Buffalo Pass

Location: 39.622375, -106.178323

Climb to Red Buffalo Pass

Location: 39.622251, -106.178269

Views near Red Buffalo Pass

Location: 39.622144, -106.178205

Red Peak

Location: 39.621794, -106.176519

South Willow Creek Drainage

Location: 39.621794, -106.176519

Descent into South Willow Creek Drainage

Location: 39.622605, -106.175694

Gore Range Trail

Location: 39.623053, -106.169257

Gore Range Trail

Location: 39.622896, -106.169525

Creek Crossing

Location: 39.623367, -106.168689

Buffalo Mountain

Location: 39.62385, -106.16503

Buffalo Mountain

Location: 39.628501, -106.151378

Trail Junction

Location: 39.630181, -106.136055

Giant Boulder

Location: 39.631845, -106.133572

Trail Junction

Location: 39.632424, -106.127425


Location: 39.627639, -106.127662