Walking Mountains Hike of the Week: Red and White Mountain
September 5, 2018
Trail name: Red and White Mountain via Buck Creek or Wildridge.
Mileage: 15 miles round trip on Buck Creek or close to half of that via Wildridge.
Subjective rating: Hiking from the valley bottom via Buck Creek this is a challenging hike. From Wildridge on U.S. Forest Service Road 779, it's much more moderate.
What to expect
The Buck Creek trail starts just north of Walking Mountains' Tang campus in Avon. Hiking the full trail, from valley bottom to summit, is one of my favorite treks because of the unique views from the north side of Interstate 70.
Buck Creek Trail follows the spring fed Buck Creek through the drainages beneath and then above the Mountainstar neighborhood. Once the trail reaches Red and White Mountain Road, the route takes hikers farther west passed Red and White Spring, to the base of Red and White Mountain.
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This area was once open to motorized vehicles and evidence of their presence can still be seen. Follow the trail, or old ruts, to the peak of the mountain for views of Holy Cross, Vail Mountain, Mount Jackson and Mount Powell all in one panorama.
Use your time at the summit to look for peregrine falcons that have been known to nest in the surrounding areas or locate evidence of sheep that still graze on Red and White Mountain.
Many of the access roads in the area, including Red and White Mountain Road, are important thoroughfares that lead to prime hunting habitat in Eagle County.
Please keep in mind that archery season has already opened and muzzle-loader and rifle season are not too far behind. Make sure you are wearing your blaze orange hiking gear and you're keeping pets close. Hunting season is also a good time to learn more about how Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages local herds and how hunters historically have been called some of the most important conservationists.
Peter Suneson manages the backcountry hiking and snowshoeing programs at Walking Mountains Science Center. For more information, visit http://www.walkingmountains.org.