If you go
To the trailhead - From Lyons, take Colo. 7 west to the Peak-to-Peak Highway (Colo. 72). Turn right (west) at Peaceful Valley campground. Park at or Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick campground. From Boulder, take Colo. 119 to Nederland and turn right (north). Turn left into Peaceful Valley campground.
Distance- Approximately eight miles round-trip.
Elevation gain - 1,200 feet.
Dogs - Yes, under voice and sight command. But dogs must be leashed upon entering the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary, at about five miles west of the campground.
More info - Boulder Ranger District, 303-541-2500.
Even if the campgrounds at Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick are packed with people, a peaceful (yes, that pun was intentional) and rather solitary day can still be found west of the campgrounds.
Several trails are accessible from the campgrounds just off the Peak-to-Peak Highway, so the large number of overnight campers, hikers and fishers are dispersed. The Sourdough Trail heads south, away from the campgrounds. It stretches for about 14 miles, with a spur to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and farther south to Rainbow Lakes Road.
The trail between Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick is only about a mile long, but it offers a nice, little pond on the north side of the trail. The pond is fed by Middle St. Vrain Creek and is bordered on the bank by a huge rock formation. As always, use caution if you decide to get a view from the top of the dominant rock of the formation.
The Buchanan Pass trailhead lies at the western edge of Camp Dick and can be reached by car. The parking lot can be full on weekends, even if summer is shrinking. But parking can be found lower down the campground complex. You can then walk to the trailhead.
The trailhead, which is also referred to as the Middle St. Vrain trailhead, is a gateway to several destinations - and ways to reach them. The Buchanan Pass trail follows the creek until it heads south to 11,837-foot Buchanan Pass. A spur of the trail continues to head north from this junction to Gibraltar Lake and the St. Vrain Lake. Trails also go to Red Deer Lake (10,372 feet) and Coney Creek. Beaver Creek Trail and St. Vrain Mountain Trail are also accessible off the Buchanan Pass Trail.
At the trailhead, take a right and head across the creek if you want to access the non-motorized trail. A 4-wheel-drive road nearly goes all the way to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary, about 3Â½ miles from the trailhead.
With all that diversity, it's easy to find your own little quiet place on the trail. Stop nearly anywhere along the lower section of Buchanan Pass Trail and you'll find a place to sit and enjoy the rushing stream.
The window for this may be fading with cold weather approaching, but some children were even playing in a pool of the creek last weekend less than a mile below Timberline Falls. The falls are only about two miles from the trailhead.
The falls aren't easy to see, unless you want to venture on some rock overhangs above the falls. For those of us scared of heights, it looks pretty good from a few feet back from the rock ledge.
If you'd like to sample more than one of the hikes available from the trailhead, campsites are available at both Camp Dick and Peaceful Valley. But, judging by the amount of people in the campgrounds last weekend, it would be a good idea to check on availability first.