Mt. Buckskin is an easy Class 2 hike from the Kite Lake trailhead for Democrat, Lincoln and Bross. The trailhead is passenger car accessible, but the last mile to Kite Lake is better handled by vehicles with some extra clearance. Buckskin can also be easily gained from Mt. Democrat. This is a good family hike for residents on the Front Range.
Mt. Buckskin NE Slopes Route
Short Day // A Wee Little Climb
RT From Kite Lake - Mosquito Range:
If coming from US285 drive north from the SH 9/US285 junction in Fairplay to Alma. In the center of town, turn west onto the Kite Lake Road, which is Park County Road 8. Park County Road 10 is not the correct road access which many inadvertently turn onto and which is on the southern end of the town. PC8 is across from Buckskin St. It's just north of the "Almart" General Store and just before the South Park Saloon.
If coming from the north over Hoosier Pass, the directions will be similar. Just turn west (right) onto Park County 8, which will be north of Park County 10, aka: the Park Hill Road. Look for the same landmarks as described above. The road is a graded gravel road.
Follow Park County 8 west as it rounds below the south flank of Bross and then gradually turns north to reach the lake parking area which now requires a fee. There is a vault toilet there. The last mile of road can be difficult for passenger vehicles. Crossover SUV's with better clearance and other higher clearance vehicles will be preferred. Some people park down just below the set of switchbacks a little over a half mile below the lake parking area and hike from there.
Since the Kite Lake trailhead offers one of the best locations for climbing the three 14ers, Democrat, Lincoln and Bross, this is a very busy and crowded area on summer weekends. We are presently not sure if camping is allowed at the trailhead. The County Road 8 on the drive in passes any number of private residences and mining claims, so at-large camping spots are few. Be careful to not violate private property. The nearest National Forest Campgrounds are the ones up the road to Mt. Sherman. Those campgrounds are the Horseshoe and Fourmile. They are both small and fill on weekends. The best camping possibility close by may be up the Beaver Creek drainage out of Fairplay. See the directions for Mt. Silverheels for more detail.
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Year Climbed: 1988
From the Kite Lake TH, walk west on the trail to Lake Emma for no more than about .4 mile. Somewhere between 12,200 and 12,300 feet elevation, turn off the trail to the south and drop down to cross Buckskin Creek, avoiding any willows as best you can. Begin the ascent to the south heading up the NE slopes of Buckskin. Lower down are some minor gullies and rock outcrops. The easiest passage through will be to the left. Cross under some utility lines and as you head up, you may end up near a fairly-well-pronounced ridge, but it's not necessary to go that far east. Just keep heading for the summit ridge on the easiest terrain you can find, which will be tundra lower down giving way to typical talus/scree mix. Once you reach the summit ridge figure out where the true summit is. Buckskin has two summits. The NW summit is on the ridge that connects to Tweto or Democrat. The true and highest summit is SE along the summit ridge crest and is marked on the USGS map as 13,865 ft. This lower summit will feel a little dwarfed by the surrounding 14ers, but still offers a nice view and will see far less visitor traffic. Return as you came.
It is easily possible to connect Buckskin with Democrat. From the summit of Democrat, walk down the south ridge some and then drop down SE onto the south face. Work your way through some couloirs down talus to Lake Emma. Follow the Lake Emma trail south for a while and about where it begins to turn east, cut across Buckskin Creek and head up the NE slopes as described above. The most difficult part of this route will be finding a way down off Democrat to Lake Emma.
Roach also mentions a route that begins below Kite Lake and goes up an east ridge of Loveland Mtn., which is an unranked summit. From Loveland Mtn, you would turn NW to reach Buckskin. Because this route begins 2 miles down from Kite Lake, and because winter maintenance ends there, this serves as a good winter approach.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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