A Little Biking and a Little Hiking Near Buffalo

Buffalo, WY

One day this week we aired up the tires on the bicycles and headed out to explore the Clear Creek Trail System.  This system of walking and biking trails begins east of town not far from our home in Deer Park RV.  It then runs through town and heads west along Clear Creek toward the mountains.

Heading toward the trail system along Hart Street

At times you have a great view of Clear Creek while . . .

. . . at other times you view the snow covered Bighorn Mountains

For a while the path goes through a cattle grazing field called Veteran’s Home Pasture (it’s on ground owned by the Wyoming Home for Veterans).  Apparently this trail doesn’t see a large volume of bike traffic as they have a little maze section of fence (often found on hiking trails) to go into the pasture section.  It makes things a little difficult for bikers, but we managed to get through.

As we made our way back through town we stopped at the Bank of Buffalo to use their ATM and found some cool sculptures by the entrance.

The next day we headed west on US-16 for a little hiking.  Wispy clouds over the mountains created beautiful panorama views as we drove along the highway.

About 15 miles from Buffalo we turned left on to a well-maintained dirt road that lead to our destination, Tie Hack Reservoir.

The reservoir is named for the men who worked in the mountains in the late 1800s and early 1900s cutting trees and forming ties for the railroads being constructed throughout the western states.  Equipped with only a saw and an ax, tie hacks would produce an estimated 10 million railroad ties during the construction of the railroads.

The going rate back then was 10 cents a tie, or a maximum of three dollars a day.  The Tie Hack spent winter months in the mountains sawing down the large pines.  Then the axes came into play as they trimmed off the limbs and the bark, forming the tie. Each tie had to be eight feet long and five inches on each side.

The Tie Hack also took part in the transporting of the ties.  Most were sent down creek during the spring snow melt.  There could be tens of thousands of ties on the creek, creating tremendous traffic jams, the original “log jams.”  To avoid these jams the Tie Hack needed to increase the flow of water in the creek so a crude dam was built, the first Tie Hack Dam.  In the spring the dam would be opened, sending more water down the creek.  The remains of the original dam, a dirt levee topped with a wooden wall, still remains a few miles from the reservoir.

The original Tie Hack Dam

The new dam, built in the mid-1990s, creates a 2,435 acre reservoir that provides municipal water for the town of Buffalo, as well as fishing and recreation opportunities for visitors.

View of the top of the dam

Looking down the other side

We were looking for a trail that follows Clear Creek on the other side of the dam.  To reach it we hiked steeply down a winding path to the base of the dam.

The winding path leading to the base of the dam

At the base of the dam we located the trail and followed it for a few miles along Clear Creek.  The creek had a strong current, as the spring snow melt was still flowing.

After a bit the trail turned away from the creek and climbed steeply up into a pine forest, then through a meadow filled with wildflowers.

Hiking back along Clear Creek we stopped to enjoy a snack while listening to the sound of the rushing water.

Snack with a view (a one-time only adaptation of lunch pics)

We returned to the dam and crossed it to the other side, where we had spotted a trail running on the wooded hillside next to the reservoir.

Looking west from the top of Tie Hack Dam

The trail on the other side

A short distance into the woods we found a nice area on top of some rocks where we could sit and enjoy lunch.

Lunch with a view

Re-crossing the dam we hiked about a half mile on that side of the reservoir before the trail ended at a large outcropping of rocks.

During the drive back to town we took some side roads to explore trailheads for future hikes, making sure the snow was melted at some of the higher spots.  Since it was mid-afternoon we didn’t see much wildlife, just one sentinel keeping an eye on us as we drove by.

The snow seems to be gone from most of the trailheads so we see some nice hikes in our future.  More on that later . . .

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16 Responses to A Little Biking and a Little Hiking Near Buffalo

  1. Beautiful! Love all the green! Your posts have me remembering the pleasures of a small town, not too many people, mountains and forests and creeks…the exact opposite of San Diego, where I am currently counting the days until we hit the road again!

  2. Gay says:

    What a beautiful area to explore. Love all the green…especially with colorful wildflowers!

  3. Those fences on the bike trail to keep out cattle definitely make it challenging for bikes, too.
    Nice scenery on both the ride and hike!

  4. pmbweaver says:

    What a way to make a living. Dear Lord…and, we think we have it bad!
    Gorgeous area. I love the green with the white of the mountains.

  5. Laurel says:

    I’m adding Tie Hack to the list of jobs I am ever-so-glad to not have on my resume. Beautiful and interesting hike—with a field of blooming lupine, even! (Glad you managed to sneak that photo by the editor, Pam.) :-)) I like the “snack with a view” bonus pic today.

  6. LuAnn says:

    Can’t wait to see some of that green when we hit the road on Sunday. You always manage to scout out some great hikes no matter where you are. I am guessing we will be seeing some of that green in MT soon.

  7. Sherry says:

    Wow the views even on the street and especially of the Bighorns behind Pam on the bike. Love that picture. There are few things I enjoy more than walking along a rushing creek. The sounds are glorious. Love the shoe views!!

  8. geogypsy2u says:

    Dang but that’s a lot of work for 10 cents a tie. Yet what a gorgeous place to work and live. Plus of course play like you two. And looks like you had these marvelous trails all to yourselves. I sometimes miss the sound of flowing water.

  9. 8machines says:

    What a lovely area! Your pictures are wonderful! I must write this down for our travels beginning next spring. Wish I could hike like you. Maybe a bike ride will be enough. Have a wonderful stay!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks for joining us! Hopefully we will have a few hikes for you in the coming weeks. We are letting the snow melt down some since the hikes are up in the Bighorns.

  10. Jim and Barb says:

    What a beautiful area, don’t you love it when the wildflowers are in bloom?

  11. explorvistas says:

    Love the history about tie hacks…I learned something new today! 🙂

  12. rommel says:

    You know I often think about how those trail ways came about. On my recent hike, there are boardwalks that made our paths so much easier and even more picturesque. I thought about the people who dedicated their time and effort to build and create those paths for others to enjoy. Beautiful nature pics! Incredible shots! That water is blue and inviting that I just want to just dive in.

  13. This is a beautiful hike with all the wildflowers, flowing waters and great views of snow capped peaks. Snack and lunch with a view–gorgeous!

  14. Jacky Bowen says:

    We have been enjoying your journeys and hope to be in some of the places you’ve been as we are also full timing. We just got our bikes out of storage, hitched them up, and locked them with a cable built into the bike rack. Is that a good idea? What has been your experience with keeping your bikes secure?

    • placestheygo says:

      Hi, Jacky! Thanks for joining us:) We carry our bikes inside the Jeep. We’ve never had to carry them outside. Before we got our Jeep we had an Outlander and they fit in that. When we decided to get the Jeep, the first question we had was whether they would fit inside. So we took a bike to the dealers and tried it out. John removes the front wheel and then locks the front frame onto a bike latch that is attached to a piece of wood. The wheel is then strapped next to the bike with a strip of velcro. Both stand up and fit perfectly with the back seat down. We will generally leave them in the Jeep unless we are going to be driving dirt roads (they bounce around) or staying somewhere for a length of time. It is nice to know they are safe and out of the weather. Having the bikes with us has been nice. There is always somewhere to ride. It seems so many towns now have bike/hike areas. We also prefer to ride our bikes to tour a city or university. Hope you enjoy having your bikes along:)

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