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A beautiful hike to the best waterfall in Chaffee County.


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Map Key

5.8

Miles

9.4

KM

Out and Back

9,834' 2,997 m

High

8,917' 2,718 m

Low

967' 295 m

Up

968' 295 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

The trail names for the Browns Creek Trail #1429 and Wagon Loop Trail #1427 were switched several years ago to reduce confusion. However, that means that older maps and some online resources don't align with the trail signs. If in doubt, refer to the route shown here.

Overview

As a state, Colorado isn't best known for its waterfalls, and thanks to its arid climate, Chaffee County even less. Browns Creek Falls is the exception to the rule—this thundering cascade flows all year round, providing a fantastic hiking objective at the base of mighty Mount White. The hike to the falls is itself an enjoyable experience, thanks to gorgeous views of the mountains above and the valley below.

Need to Know

There's a substantial amount of dispersed camping off of the Browns Creek Road, not too far from the trailhead. However, no camping is allowed at the trailhead, and due to the popularity of this area, you aren't guaranteed to get a campsite, especially if you arrive on a Friday or Saturday. To ensure that you find a campsite, arrive early on a Thursday (or earlier in the week). If there aren't any campsites available, please do not drive into the grass or undergrowth to create a new site—this damages the natural resources. Also, be sure to respect all fire bans, and completely extinguish all campfires.

Description

The hike begins from a well-developed trailhead with a pit toilet and a respectably large parking area. Even so, on the weekends—especially during the spring, when water flows are high—the parking lot can fill up. Plan accordingly.

The hike begins by following the Browns Creek Trail, which begins directly to the right of the pit toilet. Note that the trail names for the Browns Creek Trail #1429 and Wagon Loop Trail #1427 were switched several years ago to reduce confusion. However, that means that older maps and some online resources don't align with the trail signs. If in doubt, refer to the route shown here, and follow the visibly well-trafficked route.

The initial climb on the Browns Creek Trail is steep and rocky, quickly gaining elevation while providing picturesque views over the Arkansas Valley below. This trail is heavily-used by equestrians and is also open to mountain bikers, so be sure to remain alert for other trail users.

At the junction with the Colorado Trail, continue up and to the left for a short distance before turning right on the signed Browns Creek Trail to continue heading uphill.

After hiking through an open meadow with spectacular views of Mount White (left) and Mount Antero (right) above you, the trail snakes through the trees and over a couple of bridges. Keep an eye peeled for the sign pointing left toward Browns Creek Falls via a short spur trail. The main Browns Creek Trail continues uphill to Browns Lake, providing a much more adventurous mountain hike.

After enjoying your time at the foot of the thundering waterfall, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Contacts

Shared By:

Greg Heil

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Photos

At about 6 miles roundtrip, Browns Creek Falls is a great destination if you don't want to go all the way to the lake.
Jun 22, 2017 near Alpine , CO
The wildflowers are in full bloom and incredible all along the trail.
Jul 6, 2019 near Alpine , CO
Valley view from Lower Browns Creek Trail.
Apr 15, 2024 near Alpine , CO
An informative sign marks the route to Browns Lake and the waterfall.
Jun 2, 2017 near Alpine , CO
Spring runoff makes Browns Creek Falls even more spectacular!
Jun 22, 2017 near Alpine , CO
Browns Creek Falls in winter
Dec 16, 2022 near Alpine , CO

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