Trail Running Around Buffalo Mountain, Silverthorne

Gore Range Trail Heading Towards Eccles Pass.
Gore Range Trail Heading Towards Eccles Pass.

Matt and I decided to go for a nice run around Buffalo Mountain yesterday. Its a 13 mile adventure and its absolutely beautiful. We started at the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead at the top of the Wildernest neighborhood in Silverthorne. Our start time was 8am and we took off across relatively flat ground running north on the east side of Buffalo. We went straight through the junction of Buffalo Cabin Trail 1.3 miles to the Gore Range Trail. At this point we turned west and started our ascent.

After a mile or so, you pass South Willow Falls and we stopped for a few minutes to check it out. I have ran Mesa Cortina almost to this point and turned around without ever making it to South Willow so I was excited to see it. The falls create pockets in the rock that look like perfect little pools to swim in if it wasn’t so cold.

The next few miles pass through a beautiful valley filled with wildflowers and flowing streams into South Willow Creek. This is where the real climb of the run is, and we weren’t moving super fast, just enjoying the morning. Once we got up just about to treeline, we reached a wide open basin with more wildflowers than you could ever imagine and a few high alpine ponds, one that had a little snowfield above it. I threw a snowball at Shea and we played in the snow for a few minutes before carrying on.

Wildflowers on the North Side of Eccles Pass

At mile 7 we reached Eccles Pass on the west side of Buffalo mountain. Buffalo looks so different on the back side, it is straight down instead of rounded, it was so refreshing to get a perspective from all sides. Back there, the Gore Range Trail is a lot less traveled and it has a more wilderness feel from where I usually run.

Mile 7 starts the decent to Meadow Creek Trail heading into Frisco. Matt and I are our Clif Bars and started actually running at this point, and I got one of the worst cramps I have had in awhile. I took some deep breaths to push through it and drank some more water and eventually it subsided.

South Side View From Eccles Pass.

It is a half mile from the top of Eccles Pass to Meadow Creek Trail and at that point the Gore Range Trail splits and heads west and we turned south and took off down the hill. We passed quite a few people on Meadow Creek Trail, it is very popular in the summer months. From the Gore Range split off to the split off to Lily Pad Lake Trail is 3.5 miles of down hill. We ran at about an 11-12 minute mile pace all the way down to the split, passing over Meadow Creek many times.

After what felt like forever downhill, he reached the split to Lily Pad Lake and headed uphill again 2.1 miles until we reached the trailhead where the car was parked. The total mileage was 13.8 at an average 14:52 minute pace, and 3,123ft of elevation gain.

What a great run through some beautiful mountains. At this point I am at 32 miles this week and am ready to park it on the couch for a few days. I am glad to say though, that I feel more and more ready to tackle a half marathon now. Can’t wait for my Moab race in November!!