Pine Creek Trail is a 14.2 mile out and back trail located near Buena Vista, Colorado and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from May until September.
Directions from Leadville: Drive 21 miles south of Leadville on Highway 24. Turn west on to Forest Road 123. Travel approximately 2 miles on this gravel road to the trailhead. High-clearance vehicles are recommended for travel on this road.
A beautiful hike into a lovely area. After about mile 6 however, campsites were hard to find due to a lack of flat areas.
Hiked this trail in Early October 2015 with my girlfriend who is very new to backpacking. The ins and outs have been covered here as far as the fee for crossing private property etc. but one thing I must add to the previous reviews is how varied the little "forest villages" are as you progress up the trail. While you may be on this trail to get to the 14ers , I implore you to take your time and notice how the ecosystems change literally from one large swale to the next. As you gain elevation, you will begin to anticipate the large leveled valley ahead which affords expansive views of some cool mountains, Mount Emerald being my personal fave. Lot of campsites, and plenty of water for your filtering pleasure.
A great place to explore and the trail winds all the way to the Missouri Basin, past an old cabin, and several waterfalls, meadows, vistas. Take your time, be nice, and leave no trace. And if you see some litter, go ahead and grab it, it's good karma.
Great hike that goes through about three different types of terrain/biome. 3rd weekend of July in 2015 I counted 14 different species of plants that were flowering. The creek was vigorous, but not high, though it looked like it had been at flood stages the week before. The trail was not crowded (and only 9 cars at the trailhead on a Saturday). The first half mile crosses private property and they ask for $1 per person or $2 per dog or horse to be left in an envelope at the trailhead. The trail starts out on an old road with drier soil, scrub brush, and conifers probably about 20 years old. A little over a mile and half the road becomes a narrower trail and the forest thickens and is probably between 80-100 years old. Eventually the trail enters the wilderness and meets up with and crosses the Colorado trail. There are many camp spots here, (although you can find spots all along the trail, so there is no concern about finding a good place). Past this point the trail follows the creek through wide meadows with beaver dams (there are definitely fish too). There are some old cabins in places. Overall an enjoyable trail with wildflowers, views, some wildlife, and not a lot of people. I will probably do this trail again in the future. Look at the map for the road to the trailhead. It is County Road 288 and is right off of HWY 24, which is different from the directions in the listing. If it's important to you, you can get a cell signal at the high point about 3 miles in (N38 58.128', W106 14.903') for ATT or TMo and there are places to camp nearby. After this, no cell signal for the rest of the trail.
This trail was really a lot of fun. Its a nice, steady climb good for most everyone. We hiked in to about a mile and a half past the junction with the CT and set up camp in a nice wide valley with a great view of several peaks. The only other people we saw were volunteers working with the NSF doing trail maintenance on the CT. Great views for most the hike and lots of good camp sites the whole way up the trail. Take your fishing gear, good trout fishing in the stream above the CT junction.