The Buchanan Pass Trail lies within the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, and Indians Peak Wilderness. It can be accessed off of Saint Vrain Road at the western end of the Camp Dick Campground, where there is limited parking. The first 5 miles feature a gradual climb to the Wilderness boundary, where it becomes much steeper as it approaches the Pass. The trail crosses the Continental Divide twice, and its endpoint is its intersection with the Cascade Trail. Permits are required which are free for day hikers, and $5.00 for overnight backpackers. They can be picked up at the Boulder Ranger District Station in Boulder.
The Buchanan Trail initially passes toward the west along the northern side of Middle Saint Vrain Creek. There are no restrooms along this trail, so please remember to abide by Leave No Trace rules, including picking up after Fido. Bring water and clean up bags with you for the journey.
Parts of the trail through the forest are overgrown, and can be muddy in spots, and after you pass into the Indians Peak Wilderness, it becomes very steep, rocky and strenuous, rising over 1,000 feet over 6 miles. You'll travel through forest, and alpine meadows ringed by evergreens and aspen, where you may see bears, coyotes, moose and elk. With the exception of moose, who are curious and sometimes combative, these beasts are inherently shy of humans and will move away on their own. Be sure to maintain a firm grip on your pup's leash at all times. The trail skirts along mountainsides with steep drop-offs and is single-track, packed dirt most of the way. There is a stream crossing where a footbridge will keep your feet dry. Intersections with the Sawtooth Mountain Trail and the Saint Vrain Glacier Trail are tempting side trips that will reward you with furbulous views from their summits. You'll be treated to magnificent wildflowers, wild mushrooms, and waterfalls. Towering views of Indian Peaks and Sawtooth Mountain will guide you.
While this is not a hike for the faint-hearted, people and their dogs that are capable of meeting the challenges of the Buchanan Pass Trail will come away knowing they've traveled and viewed some of the most rugged and scenic landscapes in the US. Woofderful!