On a hut trip in January, I got to take Black Crows' Trios Freebird ski…
About Browns Canyon National Monument:
On February 19, 2015, President Barack Obama declared 21,586 acres of forest, rivers, and canyons Browns Canyon National Monument. The monument is located between Salida and Buena Vista in view of the Collegiate peaks. In addition to unmatched recreation opportunities, archeological evidence of human activity in the Browns Canyon region dates back to the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods 13,000 years ago. The Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes claim traditional cultural ties to the area. Early European explorers and miners also flocked to this region, though mining structures and cabins are found outside of the monument.
Why We Like It:
This beautiful 3.5-mile loop through Browns Canyon National Monument takes you through meadows, onto high plateaus, and up to amazing mountain views. Note this trail is only open to non-motorized traffic, so you won’t have to worry about ATVs or dirt bikes, but you might happen upon the occasional mountain bike and riders on horseback. Pro Tip: Head to the 1435 Trail in Browns Canyon in the fall for amazing views of the golden aspen trees.
This hike will take you farther afield, but it’s a truly stunning part of Colorado landscape. The turn-off for the trailhead is down the hill from Trout Creek Pass onto the north access to CR 307. Just before crossing the bridge, turn left onto a dirt road, CR 307. After 1.2 miles, turn left onto CR 187, Castle Rock Gulch. After another 5.8 miles, bear right onto CR 185. Be on the lookout for the second dirt road (CR185D) and turn right. After crossing a cattle guard, the trailhead is a couple of hundred feet on the left, but the only marking is a lonely pole with FS 1435 on it, so keep your eyes peeled!
On the Trail:
Viewed on the map, this trail resembles a lassoed rope (a single trail with a loop at the end). For this guide, the loop part of the trail was followed clockwise.
- From the trailhead, take the single track up to the top of a slight rise.
- The trail will then descend and traverse above a large meadow.
- Along this traverse you will pass the returning trail intersection. Proceed on the left fork.
- As you go back into the trees, descend a rocky path. You will have nice views of Aspen Ridge looking east.
- Continue down a draw toward the Ridge ( as if heading back to CR 185).
- Turn right across a drainage ditch to join the trail on the opposite side and head back up to a plateau.
- At an open area, look right for a trail heading back to another rise in terrain.
- Atop the plateau, turn right to descend into the meadow you viewed coming out.
- After returning to the bottom of the lasso and the trail intersection return to the trailhead.
3.5 miles (loop)
APPROX. TRAIL TIME
USGS: Castle Rock Gulch Cameron Mountain
Nat Geo: Eleven Mile Canyon #152