At 12,432’, Bison Peak
, or Bison Mountain, is the highest peak in the Tarryall Mountain Range. Located in the Lost Creek Wilderness
west of Colorado Springs, it offers spectacular views along the trail and at the summit.
The shortest route to Bison Peak is from the Ute Creek trailhead on Park County Road 77. The trail starts at the large, paved parking lot on the east side of the road, immediately crossing a footbridge over the Tarryall Creek. The beginning of Ute Creek Trail (trail 629) is mostly easy as it wanders through some open fields and then a lightly forested area before meeting, and following, Ute Creek. The trail crosses into the Lost Creek Wilderness and becomes much more difficult as it relentlessly climbs for another two miles above Ute Creek.
Ute Creek/Trail 629 intersects with the Brookside-McCurdy Trail (trail 607) at the top of Bison Pass, just shy of five miles from the trailhead. Turn right to continue on trail 607 to Bison Peak. Although still a consistent uphill climb, the remainder of the trail is less steep, but still not an easy hike. There are a few switchbacks once the trail gets above treeline and before crossing the top of Bison Peak.
The highest point of Bison Peak is a rocky outcropping about a half-mile north of the trail stretching across the wide, green expanse that makes up the top of the mountain. One of my fellow hikers called it “Giants Playground” and it’s easy to see why.
The top of Bison Peak covers several acres, and huge rock monoliths resembling giant building blocks dot the open peak. The peak is so wide that several rock cairns are in place to keep hikers on the Brookside-McCurdy trail from losing their way as they cross.
On the mid-June day that we visited Bison Peak, the top was sprinkled with colorful wildflowers, further adding to the beauty of the peak. And the 360-degree views from the peak were especially gorgeous.
The return trip back down to the trailhead, as you may expect, goes much quicker than the hike up, with a round-trip distance of a bit over 12 miles. It’s a fairly difficult hike when taking both the distance and elevation gain of almost 4,000’ into consideration. A fellow hiker remarked that this hike was harder than many of the 14ers he had done.
Bison Peak is best suited for experienced, well-equipped hikers. Since the trail crosses and runs alongside creeks, the mosquitoes, especially at the trailhead parking lot and the first two miles of the trail, were plentiful and relentless. I recommend you use DEET liberally, and bring it with you for your trip back.
To get there: Take U.S. 24 for approximately 34.5 miles from 31st Street and U.S. 24 in Colorado Springs to Park County Road 77, immediately west of the town of Lake George. Take County Road 77 north for approximately 20 miles to the Ute Creek trailhead.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 23 years. He is the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon and a member of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: email@example.com.