Buchanan - Pawnee Loop

The trail runs keep getting longer! Beginning at Long Lake in the Brainard Lake Recreational Area, we started our 26 mile loop by ascending Buchanan Pass (11,837’), our first crossing of the Continental Divide for the day. Snow had mostly receded, but this loop has taken time to clear for quick passage. Cruising through wildflowers and past waterfalls makes the western section of the Buchanan Pass Trail one of the most enjoyable areas of the Front Range.

At the junction with the Cascade Creek Trail, we began our return back. In the time since I camped at Crater Lake the previous month, the many downed trees had been cleared by the park service and bridges were in the process of being reconstructed.

Storms were threatening for the afternoon, so we elected to skip a visit to Crater Lake and Lone Eagle Peak, as beautiful as that mountain is. Either loaded with burdensome backpacks, or our light running packs, there is no fast way up the rocky switchbacks to Pawnee Pass (12,541’).

Only the descent to Lake Isabelle and back to Long Lake remained. Despite the threat of thunderstorms, the rain held off until we returned to the trailhead. We were also rewarded with the sight of a few moose on our way home!