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Browns Falls. From here, you can return by retracing your steps back to the trailhead. In this column, however, we'll take a different route back.

Browns Creek Falls, in the San Isabel National Forest south of Buena Vista and across the Arkansas River from Browns Canyon National Monument, is a fun little hike. Prior to doing this hike earlier this week, I last did it about 6 years ago. Other than maybe the parking lot being a little more crowded, not much has changed in the last 6 years. It's still an enjoyable hike to a nice waterfall, and since much of it winds through a dense (for Colorado, anyways) forest, it provides a nice respite from the summer heat.

To Get There: From the intersection of U.S. Highways 24 and 285 south of Buena Vista, go south on U.S. 285 for about 8.8 miles to County Road 270 and turn right (west). After 1.5 miles, where 270 turns right, continue straight on the dirt County Road 272. After 2 miles (look for the USFS informational kiosk), turn left and continue on 272 to the marked trailhead and parking lot.

Things You Need to Know: The well-marked trail starts at the north end of the parking lot. Pit toilets are available at the trailhead. No water is available, but this hike crosses several creeks. If you bring a water purification system, you can replenish your water supply along the way.  Do not drink untreated water.  Dogs are allowed on all trails on this hike and can be unleashed.  However, there is a lot of equestrian use on the Browns Creek and Colorado trails, so I highly recommend keeping your dog leashed to minimize the chance for horse-dog conflicts. This hike can be done as an out-and-back hike, however I think it's more fun to do it as a loop, utilizing the nearby Wagon Loop Trail, and this guide is for that loop. The total distance as either an out-and-back or as a loop is roughly equivalent.  NOTE: The Colorado Parks and Wildlife COTREX app and website has (at the time of this publication) the Wagon Loop #1427 and the Browns Creek #1429 trails east of the Colorado Trail, incorrectly labeled —  they are reversed on the maps. This has been reported to CPW and should be corrected soon. Trails Illustrated map #130 (Salida, St. Elmo, Mount Shavano)  is useful for this hike.

As always, when traveling, check your destination for any COVID-19 restrictions. Don't become an unwanted burden, especially on small towns.

Due to dry, hot conditions and a number of wildfires burning in Colorado, Governor Polis has banned all open fires, outdoor smoking and fireworks, except for camp stoves and home barbecues, in all public lands statewide until mid-September. 

Be Good. Do Good Things. Explore Safely.

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