This segment of the Colorado Trail leads west 9.5 miles from the old South Platte Town site to Highway 126 south of Buffalo Creek. The South Platte Town site is located 11 miles east of Buffalo Creek or 16 miles north of Deckers, on the South Platte River. The trail begins on the southwest side of the river following an old mining road. This is the beginning of trail 695, which connects with Forest Road 538, the Rawlen Peak Road. Parking is limited at the site. Please respect posted private property. The South Platte Railroad Station was located at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the South Platte River. There was a spur from here to the old mining camp of Nighthawk and the station served the South Platte Hotel, which was generally full of tourists. This station was on the railroad line until 1938 when the line was dismantled. The trail crosses Highway 126 approximately 3 miles south of Buffalo Creek. Parking is available at the developed parking area or along the access road to the abandoned Top-of-the-World Campground.
The terrain along this section of the trail is steep and rocky with several peaks rising in close proximity to the trail. The trail gains 1,000' of elevation in 3 miles during the first stretch of this section. There is a steep uphill climb to abandoned Top-of-the-world Campground, but the panoramic view is well worth it. For the rest of this stretch of the Colorado Trail the terrain remains relatively level. Once you reach the intersection of the trail with Highway 126 cross the road and continue walking on the path. You have at least a mile of easy hiking to the trailhead, which is located immediately east of the Buffalo Creek Mountain Biking Area. Once you leave the South Platte River the trail is void of water for 13 miles.
Be sure to fill up your water containers at the trailhead, because this stretch of trail is very dry. The predominant type of vegetation is ponderosa pine with few grasses and forage that survive in dry climates. The trail travels through different land forms, from steep, gravel hillsides with little vegetation to gentle, rolling ridgetops with outstanding scenery. If any user of the trail needs to be resupplied, whether it be food or water, supplies can be obtained at Buffalo Creek, which is 3 miles north from the junction of the trail and Highway 126. Forest fire danger is often very high in this area, due to very dry conditions.
Directions: From Colorado Springs, Southern Access: Drive west on Highway 24 to Woodland Park. Turn right on Highway 67 toward Deckers. When you reach Deckers turn left on County Road 126. Follow 126 past Wigwam and Kelsey Campgrounds to Forest Road 550. Turn left on to 550 and the trailhead will be on your immediate right.
Elevation: 6,380 feet
Ending Elevation: 7,600 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,220 feet
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Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Colorado
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