Browns Creek Falls Trail

You don’t even know it’s there until reaching the end and you suddenly happen upon the falls. It’s that unexpected. Loud, roaring, sparkling white water thundering down from high above. There is no description to give it the credit it deserves.

You’ll just have to hike to the falls to experience it…

Waterfall hike

Browns Creek Falls, Chaffee County, CO

While hiking up the trail you’ll hear only the sounds of Browns Creek tumbling down the valley beside you with no sign of a waterfall up ahead.

Until after about 3 miles, you reached a bend in the trail, climbed up a few rocks, then down and … suddenly the falls and the roar of cascading water are upon you.

You’ll hear “amazing”, “whoa”, “spectacular” from various other hikers and backpackers.

Hiking up the trail to the Falls has its own beauty, starting with a pretty steady incline for the first half of the hike. Views of Mt. Antero started to appear in and out of the pines and aspens.

The trail to the falls is a 6 mile out and back, rated moderate.

You can hike another 3 miles beyond the Falls to Browns Lake.

You’ll see several backpackers headed that way for an overnight. If solitude is your desire, hiking on to the lake might be quieter, as the hike to the falls is busy, lots of kids, dogs, mountain bikers and even horses.

The last mile or so levels off and becomes quite easy, going through a meadow before heading closer to the falls and hiking back in the trees.

You’ll find lots of dreamy campsites scattered along Browns Creek.

Lots of water crossings…

Hiking over makeshift log crossings and a couple bridges gives you a close up of the creek and that childlike adventure feeling.

In summer, fields of common St. John’s Wort, Blue Columbine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers are abundant.

Even with the company of so many other hikers you’ll love this day hike.

A trail ride might intrigue you, after you see all the beautiful horses, enthusiastic cowboy guides and happy riders pass you occasionally on the trail. For a Horseback Trail Ride guided trip that’s very popular on this trail:

Don’t forget your hiking essentials, we were quite dusty, a lot thirsty, and a little sunburned when we got back!

Browns Creek Falls Trail, Nathrop, Colorado

Located: near Nathrop, CO between Salida and Buena Vista, CO off of Hwy 285. Take County Road 270 and head west off of Hwy 285 towards the mountains, then make a left on County Road 272 for approximately 1.5 miles. You will find a well marked Trailhead, restroom facilities and parking.

Rated: moderate, 6 miles out and back
Starting elevation: 8,980 ft. Falls, 9,830 ft. Gain: 850 ft.
San Isabel National Forest
Chaffee County, CO
Browns Creek Falls Trail (trail #1776) joins the Colorado Trail for a short section
Open to: leashed dogs, horses, mountain bikes
No motorized vehicles
Dispersed camping allowed but not at the Trailhead
Fire restrictions common

Call Salida Ranger District for more information, 719-531-3591 or stop in at 5575 Cleora Road. The office is just east of the Salida city limits on Highway 50.

For more information on dispersed camping and restrictions visit, San Isabel National Forest