OverviewOf all the route possibilities, the North Ridge and Buffalo Park Routes are the most well known and since they start at the same trailhead, they can be combined into a nice loop. The north ridge route is mostly dry as early as late May or early June, but the Buffalo Park route is wet and muddy until at least July.
Getting ThereFrom just west of Granby, turn north on Highway 125 at Windy Gap Reservoir. Drive north on Highway 125 between mile markers 11 and 12 and turn west onto the unpaved, but well graded FR 108, which is labeled from the highway for “King Mountain Ranch”. Follow this road for 2.1 miles to a parking lot on the right side of the road. Park here.
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead, you want the trail on the west side of the road that angles up the sagebrush covered hills. The trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and down the other side to a creek. The right fork of the trail descends the creek on private land, but turn left and follow the trail along the north side of the creek to a junction. From this junction, turn left on the Paradise Creek Trail. Follow the trail to the top of the flat ridge and to another junction. Turn left on the Elk Mountain Trail and follow it along the ridge. After another 1.3 miles the trail reaches another junction. Take the trail marked for Lookout Point on the right. Follow this trail for 0.6 miles to the summit and enjoy the fine views in all directions, but the view of Parkview Mountain to the north is mostly blocked by trees. The summit is about 3.7 miles from the trailhead.
From the summit, descend the route you came up to the last junction (0.6 miles from the top). To complete the loop, turn right here on the trail marked as the Elk Mountain Trail. Follow the trail down the slope to a meadow. The trail is faded here, but cross the meadow to a visible sign post. Turn left here at the Buffalo Park Trail and follow the trail along the meadows and the creek. There are many wet areas early season, so this part of the trail is best reserved until July. This trail descends back to the trailhead passing some nice meadows and some nice views of the shoulder of Parkview Mountain along the way.
The round trip distance for this route is just over 8 miles and with 2618 feet elevation gain.