Near Nathrop, the Browns Creek trail is an 11 mile route with 2,300 feet of vertical. The Browns Creek trail offers beautiful scenery with changing vistas and vegetation. The trail follows the stream and small waterfalls can be found along the way. The lower portion of the trail begins in primarily a Ponderosa pine environment and gradually changing to lodgepole and spruce forest. The higher elevations offer pristine meadows with colorful alpine wildflowers during mid-summer months. Mt. Antero (14,269 ft.) dominates views on the hike up to Browns Lake and the Arkansas Hills to the east are spectacular, especially during the fall months. This trail is most popular with hikers and horseback riders. The Browns Creek Trail is considered moderate with some steep, challenging sections.
This is a popular trail for horseback riding groups. The best camping area for horseback groups is approximately 1.5 miles south of the the trailhead. A large open area, located on the west side of the road is ideal for horse groups.
To reach the trailhead from US285, midway between Poncha Springs and Buena Vista, take County Road 270 west for 1.5 miles to a 4-way intersection. From the stop sign, continue traveling west. The road continues as County Road 272. Stay on CR 272 for approximately 2 miles. A sign at the cattle guard will indicate your entrance to National Forest lands. At the 2-mile point, watch for an intersection. At this intersection, CR 272 turns left and travels south for 1.5 miles to the Browns Creek Trailhead.
Parking is permitted across from the trailhead and toilet facilities. Camping is not permitted at the trailhead or along Little Browns Creek due to erosion of stream banks and damage to the stream. Campers are encouraged to find alternative camp sites further south on County Road 272.
Overall, Browns Creek / Browns Lake is the 53rd most popular horse trail of all 67 horseback rides in Colorado.