DescriptionBuffalo Mountain or Buffalo Peak is the mountain between Squaw Peak (Squaw Mountain) and Cascade Mountain. It is often overlooked although it is higher than Squaw and clearly the highest "foothill" on the front side of the Cascade Massif.
Getting There & RoutesFrom I-15, take the 800 North Orem exit and proceed east until you reach Provo Canyon. Proceed up Provo canyon a couple miles until you reach the turn off on the right for Squaw Peak Road. Take Squaw Peak Road all the way until it splits (about 4 miles) and go left towards Hope Campground for the 3 shorter routes.
For the shortest route, from the split, proceed on the dirt road past Hope Campground until you come to a left turn cutback in the road (just over 2 1/2 miles from the slit) that lies due east of Buffalo Mountain---if you start heading downhill on the road you've gone too far. The trailhead elevation was 7717 according to my GPS. (The Sunset overlook is about halfway between the split and the trailhead.)
On your right (west) side, you will see a trail (with the opening in the fence that is pictured)that climbs steeply uphill heading west from the road. Follow this trail west all the way to the peak. After 1/3 of a mile, you will see the break off on your right (north) that goes down to the sunset overlook. From this point (elevation 7785), it is less than a 1/4 mile of steep climbing up to the top.
From the Sunset Overlook: When there is snow on the road and it is impassable, starting at the sunset overlook is a great hike and probably my favorite route. The Sunset Overlook is located at elevation 7265 where there is a big bend in Squaw Peak road and there are big boulders and an obvious place to park off the right (west) side of the road.
From Squaw Peak Overlook: Can be done by taking the right fork going up to the Squaw Peak overlook rather than left to Hope Campground. This is a much longer approach but still totally doable. There is a trail that heads south from the overlook parking lot which goes all the way to an intersection with the dirt Squaw Peak road on the Northeast side of Buffalo Mountain (Referred to hear as the Sunset Overlook). From here, you can either take the road (long), or take the trail that heads up south from this intersection which shortcuts to the intersection on the Southeast side of the mountain. This is the most fun and beautiful of the routes from the Provo Canyon side---the starting elevation at the overlook is at 6631 feet and includes 1400 feet of elevation gain.
From Rock Canyon: Start at Rock Canyon in Provo (The actual canyon parking lot above the temple, NOT the park). Go up the canyon just over a mile until you come to the turn off on your left (north) that goes up to Squaw Peak. Go just over a mile up the trail to Squaw Peak until you reach a meadow that is essentially a saddle between Buffalo and Squaw Peak. Squaw Peak will be off to your left (Southwest) and Buffalo will be off to your right (Northeast) as you enter the meadow). From here, find your way to the southwest base of Buffalo and you will see a game trail through the large shale scree face. Take this very steep and switchbacked game trail up to where it finally meets with the regular Buffalo mountain trail on the Southeast side of the mountain. (This is near where the trail meets the break off trail that goes down to the Sunset Overlook.) Once you intersect the regular Buffalo Mountain trail, just turn left (north) on to it and follow it .2 miles to the top!
Provo Canyon Road Squaw Peak Road Turnoff to Split: About 4 Miles
Squaw Peak Road Split to Route 1 Trailhead: A touch over 2 1/2 miles
Sunset Overlook: About halfway in between Split and Buffalo Mtn Trailhead
Split to Squaw Peak Overlook: Less than 1/4 mile
Trailhead to Summit: .60 miles
4/3/12 Note: Tried to make it up last night but Squaw Peak road was closed (even though it is supposed to open April 1). After getting over that hurdle, the road was snowy, muddy, and washed out past Hope Campground and the night turned in to a failed attempt. I will try again and add more info with pictures afterwards.
4/21/12 Note: Attempted again---still got stonewalled by too much snow on the road about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. Walked up the snowy road, found the trailhead in the dark, and made it to the summit (no snow on the trail to the summit).
Red TapeNo real red tape that I am aware of. However, Squaw Peak road is closed from November to April generally. As of April 3rd, 2012 the road is still closed despite being 100% clear all the way to the split and the squaw peak overlook which can be used for approach 2.
-The dirt portion of Squaw Peak road past Hope Campground is pretty snowy, muddy, & slightly washed out as of April 3rd, making the short approach nearly impossible.
-As of April 21, a high clearance vehicle can make it to within 1/2 mile of the trail break off the road, but must stop due to too much snow. We parked and hiked up the snowy road and then broke off to the summit. A more fun (similar in length but with more elevation gain) option would have been to start at the sunset overlook.
CampingThere is camping at Hope Campground and plenty of camping along Squaw Peak road.
HistoryI don't know the history behind this mountain or it's name. Anyone that can share any of their knowledge will certainly be much appreciated!
External LinksSee Eric Willhite's fantastic trip report here:
Willhite Web Buffalo Trip Report