Colorado’s G.E.M. Trail

The 3.4-mile multi-use trail climbs 424 feet to the summit of Buffalo Mountain. At a peak elevation of more than 10,000 feet, the GEM offers some of the most expansive and scenic views in all of Routt County.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is excited to announce the completion of the G.E.M. Trail – a CPW Trails Program project in northwest Colorado. Completed just last summer, the G.E.M. Trail is located east of Steamboat Springs in the popular Buffalo Pass area. The 3.4-mile multi-use trail, which is nestled in Routt National Forest, climbs 424 feet to the summit of Buffalo Mountain. At a peak elevation of more than 10,000 feet, the G.E.M. offers some of the most expansive and scenic views in all of Routt County.

Kyle Pietras
It’s a beautiful spot. It has 360 degree views. North, South, East and West – you’re looking at different mountain ranges and different parts of the Valley. It’s just gorgeous up there and it’s really nice that the GEM trail is there so that more people can go and enjoy.

Kyle Pietras, Routt County Riders President

For cyclists, G.E.M. boasts intermediate-level terrain, along with several technical rock sections near the summit. Alternating between winding switchbacks and gentle straightaways, the trail rewards riders with a diverse and challenging loop.

Mountain bike riders tackle a technical section of the GEM trail.
Mountain bike riders tackle a technical section of the GEM trail.

The Power of Partnership

In addition to mountain biking, the singletrack trail offers expanded access and recreational opportunities for hikers, equestrians and hunters alike. Developed in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and the Routt County Riders — a cycling advocacy group, the G.E.M. Trail showcases the effectiveness and efficiency that is possible with public/private partnerships. 

Developed in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and the Routt County Riders.
Laraine Martin
For Routt County Riders, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been quite the gem. It’s fairly simple in terms of the financial and management side of things to run a grant process with them. I think the fact that we can use CPW funds to implement a project on U.S. Forest Service land with the help of a nonprofit with trail building and construction skills brings everyone’s best characteristics to light. And I think that’s when we can really shine.

Laraine Martin, Routt County Riders Executive Director

CPW’s Statewide Trails Program

Mountain bike riders enjoy a smooth-rolling section of the G.E.M. trail.
Kris Middledorf
We want people to live life outside. And Colorado is the greatest place to do it. But, we all know there are challenges. So many people moving to the state. Visitors that come to recreate. And all of us who live here. With those challenges, we know that to get all these people outside, we need to have the places for them. But at the same time, we need to be thinking about conservation – the multiple use and wise use of our land and our resources and our wildlife and our water.

It’s opportunities like today, and over the past two years working on a trail like G.E.M. – to put trails in responsibly. To put trails where people can really enjoy the outdoors, but at the same time, conserve other resources and other places.

Kris Middledorf, CPW Area Wildlife Manager

The G.E.M. trail is part of CPW’s statewide Trails Program. Since 1971, the Trails Program has encouraged the development of trails and administers grants for trail-related projects on public lands across Colorado. The Program’s ongoing mission is to provide greater opportunities for outdoor recreation with an emphasis on conservation.

Trail courtesy sign

Please Practice Proper Trail Etiquette

On mult-use trails, you may encounter hikers, bikers and horse riders. And while some people may not be using the trails quite like you, they deserve just as much recreational freedom. Just like respecting other people on the highway, we must respect other people, and animals, on the trails. For more info, please read Hiker’s How-To: Proper Etiquette for Your Colorado Trail Adventures.


Video by Jerry Neal. Neal is the senior videographer and an information specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

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