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Our Hidden Cross Country Gems

Nov 21, 2020 | Winter Adventure

Winter is magical in Buffalo, Wyoming; its white wilderness, transporting you back to a quieter time. From snow laden forests, to rugged mountain vistas, wildlife viewing, countless winter sports, and cozy lodging and dining, there’s something for your whole family to enjoy. And, did we mention they’re all free?

Cross country skiing is a hidden gem in and around the Bighorn National Forest. Whether you’re experienced, or just beginning, you don’t want to pass this one up. With groomed and marked trails for varying levels of skiers, as well as backcountry skiing, your family adventures start here.

Where to Begin

Pole Creek and Willow Park, just minutes up Highway 16 are highly popular areas, both of which offer miles of trails for beginners through advanced cross country skiers. These trails are maintained by the Powder Pass Nordic Club (PPNC). They are a volunteer organization whose sole purpose is to promote cross-country skiing and snowshoe activities that encourage camaraderie while fostering an awareness of safe winter recreation and stewardship of the land. Visit their website for maps, ski areas, events, tips, snow reports and more.


Pole Creek

Just 20 miles up Highway 16, this popular trail area offers great skiing opportunity for beginners to intermediate skiiers of all ages.  Maintained and well marked, the area offers scenic views and ample space for skiiers, snowshoers and fat tire bikers alike. The area provides loops, hills, ridges and forested areas throughout the winter. With parking available on the west side of the road, near Forest System Road (FSR) 457, it offers easy in and out access. Learn more about this trail on the PPNC website, here.

Insider Tips

  • Dogs are Allowed
  • Vault Toilet On Site
  • Bonus – Sledding Hill Nearby

Gearing Up

  • Rent equipment, get advice and maps at The Sports Lure, downtown Buffalo
  • Stop by the Forest Service at 1415 Fort Street in Buffalo, for additional help, on your way up the mountian. Phone: (307) 684-7806

Willow Park

A little further jaunt from Buffalo, 43 miles up Highway 16, Willow Park offers a more intermediate to advanced set of loops and trails. 13 miles worth to be exact. This popular, maintained trail area offers great skiing opportunity for intermediate to advanced skiiers of all ages.  Well marked, these loops offer narrow trails, 2,940 acres of trees, meadows, steep valleys and a few cleared spur roads. Learn more about this trail on the PPNC website here.

Insider Tips

  • No Pets Allowed
  • Vault Toilet On Site
  • Parking On Site
  • Maps are provided at the trailhead and all trail intersections

Gearing Up

  • Rent equipment, get advice and maps at The Sports Lure, downtown Buffalo
  • Stop by the Forest Service at 1415 Fort Street in Buffalo, for additional help, on your way up the mountian. Phone: (307) 684-7806

Hit the Trail in Town

Hit the trail at Buffalo Golf Club (yep, the golf course), a 4 Star rated, 18 hole public facility just a couple of minutes from downtown Buffalo. Free and open to the public, the trails are groomed and the views are amazing. You may even run into deer, antelope and turkeys as you wind your way through the course. Head into the Par & Grill, at the Clubhouse, for great food and drinks by the cozy fireplace when you’re ready for a break. –

Extra Fun Additions

For the younger set, a little sledding might be in order. Very popular with the locals, Pole Creek and Sourdough Hill offer easy access and good parking. Pole Creek even has porta potties available during peak sledding season. Sourdough is slightly closer to town, just 20 minutes or so up Highway 16.

Where to End

After your day of snowy adventure, snug up at Meadowlark Lodge, just 35 miles up Highway 16, for a warm meal or a cup of hot cocoa. Warm up in front of the fireplace and take in the majestic scenery of Meadowlark Lake through the big windows. Feel like staying where you’re at? The Lodge offers resort lodging as well, quaint cabins overlooking the lake, just down the road.

Heading back to Buffalo? Visit one of our many wonderful restaurants, and enjoy a delicious meal together. Main street is home to a number of family friendly, sit down restaurants, and lodging is available at the historic Occidental Hotel. Hart street offers fast food and additional lodging, wth the Winchester Steakhouse further down the road across from the Holiday Inn and Buffalo Inn.

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before you dive in

Safety First!

Johnson County, Wyoming, and our local businesses and attractions are taking necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented time. Before you make your plans to go to any of the locations listed on this website and in the articles, please visit their website to familiarize yourself with their guidelines. And please, wear your favorite face covering while visiting Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming.

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