We plan to do some hikes up in the nearby Bighorn Mountains but are waiting a bit for some of the snow to melt. With the warm temperatures the area has been experiencing, that shouldn’t take very long. So during the past week we have been staying close to Buffalo while doing some short treks in the area around town. Buffalo has a nice trail system called Clear Creek Trail System. Two small sections of it are located just south of our RV park, so one day we set out on foot from the motorhome to explore them. We turned left on the main road in front of the park, walked about a quarter mile, then turned right and set out on Stockyard Road.
This area was once the end of the line for a railroad that ran north to the town of Clearmont, where it joined a main east-west line. But the railroad shut down many years ago and all evidence of it has disappeared. During the railroad’s time of existence there was a stockyard nearby but there are no stockyards on this road today. Now there is a nice trail there that runs along Clear Creek for a bit before turning and going around a large pond.
Across the road from the pond there is a loop that goes up a hill and around a recreation of a late 1800s prairie house. The loop is right on the original path of the Bozeman Trail.
On Thursday we drove north about 35 miles to check out the Third Thursday Celebration in downtown Sheridan. On the third Thursday of each summer month the main street through the downtown is blocked for about a half mile and the street is filled with booths operated by local businesses. Of course, what is a celebration in Wyoming without a cowboy band?
About ten miles west of Buffalo is a section of land called the Dry Creek Petrified Education Area. One afternoon we drove out to hike the .8 mile loop trail.
This area is filled with a rock called clinker, known locally as scoria. It is a natural brick formed from shale or sandstone that has been fired when coal seams caught on fire and burned back into the ground.
The loop trail has eight stations, each with a display that describes natural objects in that area.
The petrified stumps are the remains of vegetation that covered this area 60 million years ago. Back then huge swamps filled the wide, flat plain between the Bighorn mountains and the Black Hills. Giant Trees grew in a marshy area somewhat like the swamps of southeastern Georgia.
Most of the stumps are just barely sticking out of the ground. But one has been excavated a bit to allow us to see more of it.
Looking out over the grassy plains of today it is hard to imagine a tree covered swamp filled with birds, fish, and reptiles.
This place must not be a big tourist draw as we were the only people there.
Our last activity of the week was a hike on another section of the Clear Creek Trail System. The William J. Mentock Trail is a 3.5 mile trail that follows Clear Creek on the west side of Buffalo to the base of the Bighorn Mountains.
The trail goes right by the old town power generating plant. The building is now used as a canvas for aspiring young artists with spray cans.
The snow appears to be rapidly disappearing in the mountains so we are looking for some hikes up in the cooler elevations this week. More on that later . . .