Want to push yourself a bit farther in your day hike? This is the hike for you. Browns Lake Trail was a complete surprise!

Our day hike destination was first to Browns Creek Falls but the itch to see Browns Lake was too much and after hanging around the Falls we keep going. Now the trail gets much more intense and our day hike became quite the adventure.

Was so worth it! Browns Lake nestled beneath Jones Peak and Mount White is breathtaking and memorable.


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The beginning of the trail is a steady incline for about the first 1.5 miles. Along the way we were treated with views of Mt. Antero while hiking through ponderosa pines mixed with a few early summer wildflowers and the sound of water flowing downstream somewhere below. 


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When the trail levels off it really becomes quite flat through open meadows before returning to Pines and Spruce Fir amid a sprinkling of dreamy dispersed campsites.



To liven up our hike, we did several water crossings over log bridges before reaching Browns Creek Falls.

Pssst… another favorite hike to check out with a waterfall and beautiful alpine lakes McCullough Gulch Trail.

For more Colorado hiking trails, we posted a list of our favorite Colorado Adventure Guide Books. Some we’ve even worn out!



The trail really is lovely in this area with fairy-tale like green foliage and moss among the rocks.


We are getting really close to the falls now.


Most hikers head to Browns Creek Falls, which is truly a surprise as you suddenly come upon it without hearing its thunderous cascade of water in advance. 


Hiking to Browns Creek Falls is the perfect Colorado family day hike. 


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Having been to the Falls several times we are still in awe each time we happen upon it. 

Pictures just don’t do it justice. You simply have to see it. One of the more impressive waterfalls on the front range. It will catch you by surprise and take your breath away as its quite dramatic hidden in the canyon. 

The perfect spot for lunch, to explore and sun with an occasional mist of water in the summer breezes. You will find it crowded in summer months as it’s now a popular day hike and most hikers don’t continue on.

A great reason to keep going to Browns Lake! We encountered only 6 people on this part of the hike.



So here we go… up and up and up. The view in every direction is stunning. Rocky, rugged peaks so different from other trails we’ve hiked.

The anticipation of finding the lake, which could only be amazing in this setting. keep us going.


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Only 3 miles to the lake from the falls. It felt like every bend we were there, but each bend was a false hope! 



Hiking to Harvard Lakes beneath Mt. Columbia

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Until we reached the basin beneath the rugged peaks and looking ahead one last climb to the lake. Always exciting!

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. Please check out “What’s in Your Day Pack” for a list of recommended items anytime hiking.



At last, the top and here it is, Browns Lake! The water actually sparkles in the sunlight, its picture perfect. Crisp, cool clean air awaits us and we want to stay here … forever. 

Browns Lake was larger than we expected, seeing numerous spots to set up camp, we are already dreaming of returning after the early summer snow melts.


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The best part of hiking is seeing what few others get to see, finding beauty and solitude beyond words, hearing only the sounds of nature, and the best part, it’s so exhilarating both physically and mentally.

Browns Lake trail is slightly challenging in length and altitude but doable for a rewarding day hike or a first-time backpack trip. Just need an extra push if you are used to moderate shorter hikes. 

Highly recommend it! Perfect trail to get you excited about hiking…

Located: Off of Hwy 285 between Buena Vista and Poncho Springs. Take CR 270 west for 1.5 miles, continue straight onto CR 272 for 2.2 miles, turn left to stay on CR 272. 1.6 miles. Trailhead is on your right with restroom and parking.


6.2 miles out and back to Browns Creek Falls

Rated: easy to moderate

12 miles out and back to Browns Lake

Rated: moderate to strenuous

Open to Dogs and horses

Salida Ranger District – (719) 539-3591

Nearest Towns: Salida, CO and Buena Vista, CO

San Isabel National Forest

A GENTLE REMINDER: Venturing off trails damages vegetation, leads to erosion and impacts wildlife.


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Nearest Towns: Salida, CO and Buena Vista, CO