Trailhead Elevation: 8,913 ft.
Falls Elevation: 9,869 ft.
Distance: 6.34 mi.
Elevation Gain: 966 ft.
Start Time: 10:46am
End Time: 2:15pm
We were looking for a light hike that my mother could do in the Buena Vista area. We originally looked at something like the Kroenke Lake Trail and then also hitting parts of the CDT from Cottonwood Pass. Then the possibility of Brown's Creek Falls hit us and that seemed like the instant winning choice. It was rated at less than 6 miles roundtrip and less than 1000 feet gain. A very reasonable hike with rewarding views.
Brown's Creek Falls is supposedly one of the top three waterfalls in the state of Colorado. After today we could see why. This trail is also one of the classic tourist spots in the Buena Vista area which means plenty of people partake of it.
The first mile and a half are quickly becoming very familiar to us. My father and I hiked it twice back in June 2019. Once when we did Mt. Antero via Little Brown's Creek, the other as a means to gain the Colorado Trail and hike north. It is a very well kept trail offering some beautiful views. We had it mostly to ourselves getting passed by just two small groups. The weather for our hike was a perfect blue sky day. The temps were in the low 60s at start.
Once we gained the Colorado Trail that meant new terrain for me. My folks had hiked to the Falls years back but I had never been. Our time with the CT was short however. We made it over the crossing with Little Brown's Creek and shortly thereafter the Brown's Creek trail leaves the CT.
The Brown's Creek trail has the feel of an old road. It is a very wide singletrack and largely straight for most sections. It feels like a trail highway and easily hikable. It was also gaining elevation at a very small grade for the part we hiked. This was all helpful for my mother who doesn't get out hiking as much as she'd like.
|Crossing Little Brown's Creek|
In the last half mile we passed a beautiful meadow which opened up views of Jones Peak. After the meadow there were two crossings of Brown's Creek. Each crossing had good quality log bridges. Without the bridges one would be walking through a solid 2-3 foot of moving water, at least. Beyond the second crossing the junction for the Falls arrived quickly. There is a signed junction with a sign with an arrow pointing left for "Falls". To the right would be the Brown's Creek trail continuing further west. To the left the falls were just another tenth of a mile over rocky trail.
We arrived at the falls with nobody else present. We had them entirely to ourselves which was quite a treat. There is plenty of walking area available to take photos from different vantage points. Even in September the falls were flowing really well and we wondered what they had looked like back in June with the full snow melt coming down. We spent 20 minutes there taking it all in and grabbing a bite to eat. I was genuinely impressed with these falls, they didn't disappoint.
The hike out was mostly uneventful. We ran into quite a few people now coming up trail and this was now 1 and 2pm in the afternoon. We encountered quite a few groups with dogs. The last group we encountered had what at first appeared to be a large dog, that is, until we saw the small horns. Turns out they had a goat! They were training it and said goats do train fairly well. We observed it munching leaves on the side of the trail and meandering as it pleased.
This is a highly recommended hike and reasonable for most ability levels. It is easily accessible from Buena Vista. All of this means it can be a fairly crowded trail with horse groups also hitting the trail certain days. Hopefully everyone practices good LNT to keep this trail as beautiful as it is presently.
|2nd crossing of Brown's Creek|
|The signed junction for the Falls|
|Beautiful views of the Arkansas Valley on the hike out|
I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).