Hikers seeking to escape the crowded front range hikes and rise to a greater challenge might be interested in the Bison Peak Trail in the Tarryall Mountains of the Lost Creek Wilderness. This trail is not for the faint of heart. The most popular route from the Ute Creek Trailhead just south of Tarryall Reservoir is a 12.2 mile round trip trek with 3,671 feet of elevation gain to 12,431 feet, according to Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness by Gerry Roach and Jennifer Roach. The views from this trail and the remote wilderness feel of the journey make this hike well worth the effort.
To reach the trailhead from the north, take Highway 285 southbound from Denver to the town of Jefferson and turn south on Tarryall Road which is also County Road 77. Travel about 17 miles on the well maintained two lane paved road and pass Tarryall Reservoir. After another mile or so start looking to your left for the trailhead sign and a good sized parking lot. Coming from the south, turn north on Tarryall road just west of the town of Lake George, proceed north about 25 miles on the rough paved surface winding through the dense forest until you finally get to the smooth road. Then start looking on the right for the well marked trailhead just south of Tarryall Reservoir. If you get to the reservoir you have gone too far.
Once parked at the trailhead, proceed across Tarryall Creek on the bridge to the main trail. The trail will veer back to the south along the highway for a bit before turning into the Lost Creek Wilderness where you will start the serious climb. Be sure to wear your waterproof hiking boots as there are three creek crossings before the serious climb begins. The trail is well maintained the entire distance, so no special climbing equipment is necessary. The ascent is relentless but not severe and there are plenty of places to pull off the trail for a rest. As you near Bison Pass and the junction with the Brookside-McCurdy Trail the view to the west begins to open up and the vast mountain ranges in western Colorado become visible. Turn right at the Brookside-McCurdy sign and the destination will become visible. The peak and the Bison arm can both be seen from parts of the final ascent. Conquerors of the summit are rewarded with fantastic 360 degree views of the wilderness and the many wonderful and unusual rock formations that make Bison Peak special.
This is a serious hike so be sure to pack plenty of liquids, sustenance, rain gear and a map and compass. For ascents in the early summer or late fall, snowshoes may be required to reach the summit.