Hiking Trail Guide, Buena Vista, Colorado

Colorado Fourteener Country Trail Guide
Buena Vista, Colorado Area Hiking Trails




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Colorado Hiking, Walking & Jogging Trails Information

There is a multitude of great hiking trails in the Buena Vista, Colorado area to choose from. The following guide lists some of the more popular hikes.

This information has been put together from information provided by the Buena Vista Recreation Department and the Buena Vista Area Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact the Buena Vista Recreation Director at (719)395-8643 extension 16, or visit the Buena Vista Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Center.

As a user of National Forest Lands, you have a responsibility for your own personal safety during any activity you may pursue. Please enjoy the trails but remember you do so at your own risk. Always let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Go prepared for changes in the weather and carry food and water, map and compass, a first aid kit and other necessary equipment. Maps and equipment may be purchased at The Trailhead, Hi Rocky,and Buena Vista True Value. Exercise caution while hiking and don't be afraid to turn back if conditions become extreme. Don't overdo it; especially if you're not in good physical condition. Many hikes take place at high elevation and an "easy" hike at 12,000' can be strenuous. Campers should pick campsites well away from the trail, lake shores, and streams to avoid crowding and damage to fragile wet areas. Please pack out what you pack in. Use good judgement. HAVE FUN!

Brown's Lake, sitting between Mt. White and Jones Peak in a high basin, is a popular spot for hikers and 4WD enthusiasts and is a good lake for fishing. The alpine lake cab be reached by a trail system to the east or a 4WD road from the west. The eastern trails overlooks several waterfalls on the Brown's & Little Brown's Creek.

Wagon Wheel Loop and Brown's Falls
Length: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 220 feet elevation
Difficulty: Moderate
Maps: Mt Antero topo/San Isabel NF
Directions: 3.5 miles south of Nathrop turn west onto CR 270 and follow the road for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto CR 272 and continue southwest 3.5 miles to Brown's Creek Trailhead. This route loops through Brown's and Little Brown's Falls. The falls make an excellent place for lunch and reflection. The return trip follows Brown's Creek back to the parking area.

Brown's Lake
Length: 6 miles one way.
Starting Elevation: 8900'
Elevation Gain: 2400'
Difficulty: Moderate
Maps: Mt Antero topo/San Isabel NF
Directions: This trail is good for either a day hike or as an overnighter. 3.5 miles south of Nathrop turn west onto CR 270 and follow the road for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto CR 272 and continue southwest 3.5 miles to Brown's Creek Trailhead. Hike west on Brown's Creek Trail to the 2 junctions with the Colorado Trail. Continue west on Brown's Creek Trail and a steady 4 mile climb along Brown's Creek will bring you to the lake.

Buffalo Peaks Area and Meadows
8 miles, 1600 feet elevation
Drive north on the Four-Mile Creek road and to the Buffalo Peaks trailhead. There are many beaver ponds along the trail and lots of flowers in the valley on the way to the saddle. North of Buffalo Meadows is an area south of Weston Pass with excellent views.

Chalk Creek Pass
8 miles, 1200 feet elevation
Drive to St. Elmo then up to the old town of Hancock to begin this trip. Hike south on the Hancock Pass road for a short distance then keep left and continue to Hancock Lake. Choose either side of the lake to hike toward the pass. After reaching Upper Hancock Lake follow a gentle slope to the pass which is just east of the continental divide. Sewanee Peak to the east and Van Wirt to the west make for great views and possible climbs.

Brown's Pass and Cabin
8 miles, 2000 feet elevation
From the Denny Creek trailhead hike north through the lodgepole forest. Once past the Mt. Yale and Hartenstein Lake trail spurs the trail winds beside a large subalpine meadow. The last mile to the pass is steep but well worth the effort. Another 1/2 mile to the old cabin for lunch and great views of the Three Apostles to the north.

Hartenstein Lake
6 miles, 1000 feet elevation
Hike to this lake up the Brown's Pass trail in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. It is a great fishing favorite. Hikers will trek through the montane to the supalpine zone with excellent views of beaver ponds along the way. This is a good nearby trip.

Ptarmigan Lake
8 miles, 1600 feet elevation
Trailhead is about 1 mile west of the Denny Creek trailhead. A good trail will take you south winding around some small lakes with very good views of Mt. Yale looking north. Once at the lake enjoy the alpine wildflowers and views of Jones Peak to the west. A short hike to a saddle south of the lake gives you good views of Mineral Basin and Mt. Princeton.

Rich and Rough and Tumbling Creeks
10 miles, little elevation gain
Drive on US 285 about 8 miles past Antero Junction and turn left on Forest Road 431 (Buffalo Springs). The trailhead for the trip is about 7 miles west. By doing a circle of Rich and Tough and Tumbling Creek trails, you will become absorbed in the surrounding aspen, willow, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine and Douglas fir.

Cottonwood Pass Southbound
12 miles, 3000 feet elevation
Experience the alpine tundra for the day! Drive west to the top of Cottonwood Pass and hike off trail all day south along the divide. Go about 6 miles, almost to Kruetzer Mountain, which is east to the little town, Tin Cup. Good views of Taylor Park are seen throughout the entire trip. There will be about the same elevation gain returning as going so be prepared.

Harvard Lakes
6 miles, 1200 feet elevation
From North Cottonwood Creek hike north on the Colorado Trail to these small lakes under the east ridge of Columbia Peak. The lakes are an unexpected surprise after enjoying this walk through the forest. The trail is full of delightfully diverse views with trees and meadows only to come upon a small group of lakes nested in the mountains.


Smart Hiking:

  • Always put safety first.
  • Don't overdo it. Stop to rest, enjoy the scenery and use common sense.
  • Hike as a group.
  • Always let someone know where you're going and when you'll return
  • Observe low impact guidelines.
  • Please pack out what you pack in.


What to Bring:

  • a day pack
  • high energy food
  • plenty of water
  • extra clothing
  • sturdy hiking boots
  • warm/dry clothing for changing weather