Published with permission from the guide book: Mellow Mountain Trails Hiking Guide to Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Valley
by Nathan Ward.
- Featuring 27 Fun Day Hikes in Buena Vista & Salida – beginner to expert..
- Maps and Elevation Profiles for each ride, including altitude gain and loss.
- Local Advice on riding areas and seasons, where to sleep, where to soak, where to find the best pizza, the best coffee and the best bars in Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado.
Brown’s Creek – Wagon Loop Trail
The Wagon Loop Trail circles a section of Brown’s Creek on a pleasant singletrack through pine and aspen forest with lots of interesting big rocks. The trail climbs steadily through the forest on one side of the creek and descends on the other side, before joining a dirt road back to the starting point. This is a nice hike with children who will enjoy checking out the beaver ponds.
Several longer hiking options exist near Brown’s Creek and a sign at the trailhead gives approximate distances. One option is to hike the Colorado Trail out and back from west side of the Wagon Loop Trail. Another possibility is the hike to Brown’s Lake from the top of this loop (Mile 1.6). Brown’s Lake sits in a high mountain basin between Mount White (13,371 ft.) and Jones Peak (13,604 ft.) Finally, some people will enjoy the slightly longer hike to Brown’s Falls beyond the top (west end) of the loop.
Trailhead Access & Facilities
Drive just over 13 miles north of the stoplight in downtown Salida on US 291 to US 285, or just over 11 miles south of the stoplight in downtown Buena Vista on US 285. Turn west on CR 270 and drive 1.5 miles to a 4-way junction of 270/271/272. At this intersection, continue straight west on CR 272. Stay on CR 272 for 2 miles to a junction with CR 274. Turn left and stay on CR 272 for 1.7 miles to the Little Brown’s Creek Trailhead. Park here. (N38°40.33, W106°09.71)
There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.
Location: West of Nathrop, between Salida & BV
Distance: 3.9 Miles – Loop
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Best Months: June through October
Trail Type: Singletrack
Dog Friendly: Yes
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,870; High Point 9,600; Climbs/Descends 740
Land Status: San Isabel National Forest
Maps: Trails Illustrated #130
Brown’s Creek - Wagon Loop Trail Photo Gallery
Brown’s Creek - Wagon Loop Trail Mileage Log
0.0 Trailhead – Look for trailhead sign. Elevation 8,870 ft. (N38 40.33, W106 09.71)
0.1 Trail sign – follow hike #1, the Wagon Loop (#1429-1776-1427-CR 272). If you want a longer hike, note the different routes listed here.
0.2 Trail to the left, do not take.
0.4 As you ascend this switchbacking trail, look east for great views of the Arkansas River Valley
1.4 Junction of trails. Stay straight ahead on the Wagon Loop #1776/Colorado Trail. Do not go uphill to the right, on the Colorado Trail going the other direction.
1.6 Trail leading down to the creek on the left, don’t take it. After a few yards, you’ll come to a bridge over Brown’s Creek. This is a good resting point to sit and enjoy the forest and the sound of the rushing stream. Just over the bridge, there is a signed trail junction. Turn left here on #1427 to stay on the Wagon Loop.
1.7 Bridge over creek. You begin to descend.
1.9 Sign indicating Wagon Loop Trail. Descending.
2.7 Here, the trail has washed out and is filled with large rocks. Go to the right, around the washout.
3.4 Cross the creek.
3.5 The singletrack trail ends here at the dirt road, CR 272. Turn left on CR 272 and follow the road to the parking lot where you started your hike.
3.9 Back in the parking lot where you began.