Sunday, November 1, 2009
Pawnee Buttes, Pawnee National Grassland
Pawnee National Grassland
Date Hike: November 1, 2009
Distance: 4 mi (RT)
Pawnee Buttes Website (USFS)
Directions: Trailhead location = Lat. 40.81394301370 - Long. -104.00075439300.
The trailhead is not easy to get to and requires some driving on dirt roads, but these are good dirt roads and passenger cars should have no problem. From Fort Collins, head east on Hwy 14 through Ault and Briggsdale. Turn left on Co Rd 103, right on Roanoke, left on Co Rd 105, right on Co Rd 104, left on Co Rd 111, right on Co Rd 110, continue onto Co Rd 113, and turn left (north) onto Pawnee Buttes Trailhead Rd. There should be signs, but I wouldn't rely on them.
The Pawnee Buttes are a fantastic destination for a hike on the great plains. The buttes themselves are iconic and the hike is a lot of fun. The hike starts by traversing the grasslands. This is wide open, big sky country. The presence of a wind farm takes away from the isolation that grasslands often provide, but its a heck of a lot better than a coal plant... Shortly after the grasslands, the trail weaves through some badlands before returning to the grass on it's way to the Buttes. The trail takes you up close and personal to the 1st butte, and circumnavigates the 2nd. On the way back, be sure to make a left at the trail junction which will take you to the top of the sandstone cliffs. This part of the hike is lots of fun and provides wonderful views. While it is a journey to get to the Buttes, it is surely worth it. It feels like a road trip to a National Park and even feels like a different state. Make a day of it.