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Nathrop, Colorado, United States

Browns Creek Waterfall

A pleasant hike to a beautiful waterfall

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.1 miles / 9.8 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
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This is a very fun hike to a spectacular waterfall. The hike has plenty of variety that will keep your interest including meadows, pine, and aspen forest. You will be treated to many views of Mt Antero, and even get to test your balance by crossing Browns Creek via small log bridges.

The usage of the trail is moderate. You should expect to see 5-10 people on your hike.

The trail gains approximately 850 ft in elevation, most of which is in the first 1.5 miles.

Parts of the trail are sandy or have lose rock, so be prepared to get dusty, and you will likely waste some energy on the soft ground.

No camping allowed at trailhead
Pets must be leashed
No motorized vehicles
Fire restrictions are very common in this area

For up-to-date information please contact the Salida Ranger District (719-553-1404)


  1. Most of this hike is exposed to the sun. So be prepared with sunscreen and plenty of water

  2. The waterfall is most impressive in late spring / early summer when snow runoff is at its peak

  3. If you like to fish bring your gear browns creek has some good fishing

  4. If you plan to overnight there is lots of additional hiking in the area including (browns lake, the Colorado Trail, and mt Antero)

Points of Interest


Getting Started

To reach this trail Go North out of Salida for 13 miles, turn left on CR 270. Go 1.5 miles to the 4 way stop and then continue straight on CR 270 for 2 miles. At the CR 274 junction, turn left and stay on CR 272 for another 1.7 miles to the trailhead.

There are restrooms available at the trailhead.

The trail begins with 1.5 miles of moderate climbing in soft sand and loose rock. This dry dusty part of the trail is not much fun, but don't loose heart it gets better!
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Introduction To Hike

Cattle Gate

Soon after starting you will reach a poorly constructed cattle gate. To open you will need to lift the wire over the free standing pole. Be sure to close the gate behind you.

Valley Views

As you climb don't forget to look behind you for some good views of the Arkansas River Valley

Mt Antero Views

This trail offers many stunning views of Mount Antero. The eleventh highest peak in Colorado, with an elevation of 14276. This view early in the trail was my favorite.
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About Mt Antero

Colorado Trail

At approximately 1.4 miles you will intersect segment 14 of the Colorado Trail at this signed junction. You will turn left to follow the Colorado trail for 0.3 miles.

The trail flattens out at this point.
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The Colorado Trail

First Creek Crossing

Soon after joining the Colorado trail you will cross "Little Browns Creek" on this well constructed bridge.

Browns Creek Trail

At about 1.7 miles you will reach a junction with Browns Creek Trail. Turn right at this junction.

Just past the junction there is a place to register. The forest service uses this to keep track of trail usage.


As the trail meets Browns Creek you will find a really nice campsite on the bank of a small pool along Browns Creek. There are plenty of flat areas for several tents, There are also two separate fire rings. The downside is the trail does run right next to camp so you will get some traffic. From looking at the registry book I would estimate 10-15 parties will pass this point on a weekend day.

The small ponds in this area provide good fly fishing opportunities as they are home to many cutthroat trout.

Second Creek Crossing

Soon after the campsite the trail hits Browns Creek. At first it looks like there is no bridge to cross but if you look back to the right, you'll notice the trail goes back and around approximately 50 ft to another section of the creek that does in fact have a log bridge.

This creek can be very swift during periods of high runoff. Appropriate care must be taken to cross the creek. Even shallow water can be dangerous when it is moving fast.

Third Creek Crossing

A little farther up the trail you will cross Browns Creek again. These logs bend and bounce but seem pretty solid.

Trail To Falls

After about 2.5 miles the trail will re-enter the pine forest and begin a gentle climb. Look for this sign to the falls. After turning you will make a short rocky climb to the falls. You should hear the waterfall almost as soon as you turn.

The Payoff

This beautiful falls is well worth the hike in!! I would recommend taking this hike in June when spring runoff will make the falls more impressive.

Trail Continues With Nice Views

This beautiful section of the trail has a great mix of Aspens, Fir, and Meadows. You will also catch some great views of Mt Antero. The trail is dusty / sandy, but flat.
Pictures in this guide taken by: colokeith

Browns Creek Waterfall Trail Map

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About the Author

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I am a Colorado native and outdoor enthusiast. I enjoy most outdoor activities. Follow me on twitter...

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