Buford - New Castle Road summit(u)

This road is named after its two endpoints. This implies that there is not much worth naming a road after in between. - Not exactly the way I see it. The road is the "main highway" across the White River Plateau; main highway in a relative sort of way. It's a good dirt road that can be cycled with a mountain bike in a non-technichal  aerobic way, the way you would ride a road bike, the tires are just a bit heavier.

The road side scenery consists mostly of dense forest, interspersed with occasional far views onto high plateaus. The main hint that you just climbed 300 feet more than from Aspen to Independence Pass are the legs, and not so much the views. The road does not follow the edge of the plateau. For those views you have to explore much slower out and back tracks.

This Forest Road summit is the most aerobic way for a cyclist to cross the White River Plateau, a densely forested, unpopulated, high plateau between the Colorado River and White River. The point of highest altitude may also be reached by a variety of smaller tracks. The last time I rode this, the entire distance was a fairly smooth, hard dirt surface without washboard (Oct/05). But these things change.

The summit is not named or marked on maps. But you do get the impression that you are embarking on a high summit road, from the road signs at the bottom of CR8, here named Flat Top Road,  leaving Meeker. The Buford - New Castle road is included in the sign forest of the various open-closed signs for the dirt road passes, leaving the White River Valley near Meeker.


01.(5560ft,mile00) START-END SOUTH: New Castle, turn up Grass Valley road, heading north on the west end of town.
02.(5700ft,mile02) road following East Elk Creek leaves on right, stay left.
03.(5800ft,mile04) road following Main Elk Creek leaves on right, stay left
04.(5910ft,mile05) New Castle - Buford road leaves on right, go right.
05.(6410ft,mile08) left goes back to Harvey Gap summit(u); stay straight
06.(9470ft,mile24) Triangle Park area; left fork descends towards Rifle; stay right
07.(9900ft,mile30) right leads to Meadow Lake campground; stay straight
08.(10097ft,mile30) TOP: Buford - New Castle Road summit(u)
09.(6990ft,mile43) START-END NORTH:  continuing straight leads to Buford. But profile continues left towards Meeker.
10.(6910ft,mile44) START-END NORTH ALTERNATE: bridge across White River. Left leads to Meeker, right to Buford.

Approaches

From South. After leaving New Castle, Buford Road diverts from the road to Harvey Gap, by taking a right turn and climbing towards the eastern edge of Grass Valley. The road leaves Grass Valley by following a densely forested side valley. Views of the Grand Hogback remain obscured behind a low ridge. After a persistent steep climb to the edge of the plateau, a vista on Roan Plateau opens to the west. I think this is the best view along the route, unless you take the time to explore long side routes. But the work out is far from over at this point. The plateau rolls along, but trends upwards. The highest point offers no grabbing views on the first take. But during a ride in late fall, Clark Ridge in the Flat Top Mountains (Plateaus) in the distance hints at its surpsingly high elevation. It appears in the form of a ruler straight hairline of snow on the horizon to the east. 

From South. (also described upwards) The town of Buford is a small store, selling hunting supplies, and lately supplies for other tourists, things like gasoline, soda and potato chips. This side is much more remote country, and very far from thoroughfare traffic, like on I70 on the other side. In the fall, passing drivers tend to be clad in orange, so that nobody gets shot without a chance to shoot back. This is hunting central. The wildly curving road gives a few glimpses of the maze of plateau cliffs in northern Colorado, framed by trees along the road, as it steadily climbs to the summit.

 

A Day on a 3 day tour with this point as highest summit

PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED:

(< | Ripple Creek Pass > )
New Castle - Buford Rd s(u):
New Castle > New Castle Buford road summit(u) > east of Buford; 59 miles (m1:95.08.13).
Notes: On this three day tour I camped exclusively on NF and BLM lands. The other days were; day 2:  east of Buford > Ripple Creek Pass > Dunkley Pass > south of Toponas, 69 miles. day 3: south of Toponas > Colorado River Road > summits on Co134 > New Castle, 73 miles. All mileages measured with a mechanical onboard odometer (m1:95.08.13-15).

A Day on a Two Day Tour with this point as highest summit

PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED

( < Dick's Pass | > )
New Castle - Buford Rd s(u) : New Castle > New Castle - Buford Rd s(u) > Meeker: 69 miles with 5600ft of climbing (m3:05.10.16).
Notes: On the 1st day the route was: Meeker > Dick's Pass > Rifle > New Castle, 76 miles with 4160ft of climbing in 5.4 hours. This included about 15 extra miles of extra out and back riding in 1.5 hours and ~500ft of elevation gain.

 



Roan Plateau on the right, and Battlement Mesa on the left - from an open meadow on the Bufurd-New Castle Road


the southern approach above Buford