Living in Buena Vista is wonderful; playing in our big backyard is amazing.
With 80 percent of Chaffee County comprised of public lands, BV’s backyard stretches for miles in every direction.
Endless adventures are available right out the door, no car required. Except for far-flung adventures and responding to search and rescue missions, our 4Runner spends a lot of time in the garage. A side benefit of so many easily accessed local adventures is staying fit for search and rescue missions.
As members of Chaffee County Search & Rescue North, my husband, Scott, and I need to be ready to hike many high-elevation miles to respond to calls for injured, ill or lost people in the backcountry.
Our backyard is big enough to share, so let me suggest several local adventures that can begin from downtown BV:
Adventure Route 1 — Mountain bike local single-track: Whether you ride a mountain bike or a fatbike, BV’s local single-track is fantastic. Every ride can start in town, with two options to cross the Arkansas River.
Here is our favorite route: Ride to South Main, across the Beaver Falls Bridge and start the single-track climb up the Bridge-to-Bridge Trail.
Turn right at the Whipple Trail and continue climbing to CR 304. Turn right and cruise the dirt road to the Midland Trail single-track and on to 1450A (Bacon Bits) where you’ll turn left and ride to the end of the single-track.
Take a breather, then turn around and ride back, turning left at the Camp Elevation Trail sign on CR304. Descend the new Camp Elevation Trail to rejoin Bridge-to-Bridge and ride back to town. This route is 15 miles of mostly single-track with jaw-dropping views.
Adventure Route 2 — Fat Bike Fourmile: If you don’t have a fat bike, rent one at one of the local bike shops to access the Fourmile Travel Management Area’s fat bike playground. You could also ride a mountain bike, or even an ATV or dirt bike, but the area’s steep climbs and deep sand are primo for fatties. There are so many options with more than a hundred miles of roads and trails, but a great starter route starts right from town:
Ride out CR 371 (River Road) and turn right on CR 375 just before the tunnels. Climb up 375 to 376 on the right. Enjoy the refreshing ride through the creek and floating on top of the sand until turning left on 311. Turn left on 373 and left again on 375A until reaching 375. Turn left and enjoy the descent back to the River Road. This 13-mile route provides a taste of what Fourmile has to offer to fatbike aficionados.
Adventure Route 3 — Bike-to-hike: Ride your bike to the trailhead, then hike from there. A local favorite is the 2.5-mile hike to the summit of Midland Hill (aka Sleeping Indian):
Ride to the Whipple Bridge at the BV River Park. Hike up the south Whipple Trail, cross CR 304 and continue on single-track (6032) until an intersection. Turn right on this pedestrian-only trail and continue up until you reach the summit where you can enjoy sweeping views of BV and the Arkansas River Valley.
Adventure Route 4 — Gravel bike-to-hike for bigger miles: The ride to this trailhead is seven miles; the hike is as long as you want. From East Main Street, cross U.S. 24 at the stoplight and ride up paved CR 306 to dirt CR 343. CR 343 provides a stiff test of lungs and legs before arriving at the Colorado Trail (CT) crossing. Here, after locking your bike to a tree, you choose whether to hike south or north as far as you want before returning to your bike. You’ll love the zippy descent back to BV.
From BV, adventure options are limited only by creativity, equipment and skills. For some of the more “out-there” adventures, you should have solid navigation and route finding skills.
Bottom line: You don’t need a car to explore BV’s beautiful, big backyard.