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Road Trip Hike: Browns Canyon National Monument 

click to enlarge Mountain view from Browns Canyon National Monument - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Mountain view from Browns Canyon National Monument
Established in 2015, Browns Canyon National Monument is a 21.5 thousand acre swath of land south of Buena Vista, Colorado, and east of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) famous for its white-water rafting and fishing.

Managed jointly by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, the monument offers a few hiking trails that provide access to both the interior of the monument and also to the Arkansas River.  This roughly 12 mile out-and-back hike features a loop at its far end and starts at the north end of the monument, just outside the AHRA. The views of the nearby Collegiate Peaks were constant and awe-inspiring and during my hike there in early July, there were many types of wildflowers in bloom to enjoy. During our hike, our group of 3 hikers encountered only 2 other people on the trail, making it a quiet place to hike. See slideshow for details.

Navigating some parts of the trail can be difficult, requiring some good wayfinding capabilities. None of the maps I have had any of these trails on them, however the Colorado Parks and Wildlife COTREX app and the associated website does. I downloaded the maps to my phone prior to the hike and was able to use the app to stay on track in some of the more difficult spots.

To Get There:  From the intersection of US 285 and US 24 at Johnsons Corner (just south of Buena Vista), go south on US 285 for 3.4 miles then left on County Road 301 at the sign for Fishermans Bridge. After a half mile, turn right onto County Road 300 and look for the Browns Canyon National Monument sign just past the campground. The parking area and trailhead are at the bend in the road, just past the sign.

What You Need to Know:  There is virtually no shade anywhere on this hike, and the summer heat can be intense. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, moisture wicking clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. There is no water on this hike. Cell phone service seemed to be pretty reliable for most of the hike, however you will be back-country, so do not rely on your cell phone. Tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to be back.  The terrain ranged from soft sand to slick rock to football sized rocky terrain. Wear appropriate footwear.

In other news, this Saturday, July 13th is the Colorado Springs Trail Groups Expo, at the Colorado Springs REI store. It's an excellent opportunity to meet many of the trails and friends groups in the Pikes Peak region. The free event runs from 10am to 3pm.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for  almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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