Browns Creek

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Tundra/talus hike
Time Required:
Half a day
class 2

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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Browns Creek
Created On: Jul 7, 2003
Last Edited On: Jul 15, 2003


As one of the lesser known approaches to a Colorado mountain group, I consider this basin to be one of the true rare jems of the Sawatch range. 4 Centennial peaks are accessable from this basin, and yet you will rarely find another soul attempting any of these peaks from this side. Your destination is the upper basin of the Browns Creek drainage. Your approach will depend on what sort of an outing suits your taste and perhaps your vehicle. A beautiful pack trail comes up the drainage from US285, however this approach is fairly long and would best be done as an overnight backpack adventure. To those with a stout 4WD, on the other hand, this basin is accessable by vehicle via the Baldwin gulch road on Mt. Antero. The later will be described here.

Find and follow the Baldwin Gulch 4WD road as described in the beta for Mt. Antero. For a typical ascent of the west slopes of Antero, one would usually park in the Baldwin gulch valley and continue on foot. However, you will want to continue on up the 4WD road past this point as it winds its way up a series of narrow and exciting switchbacks directly up the west face of Antero before finally topping out at the Antero/N. Carbonate saddle at 13,800. The switchback section of this road has NO room to pass oncoming cars, so make sure to verify that the switchbacks are free of traffic before committing. Once topping out in the saddle, Tabeguache and Shavano will be the obvious peaks across the valley to the south, and the road down into the Browns creek valley. This section of jeep trail is frequented by gem hunters, but a fellow mountaineer is a rare sight indeed. You can drive to a little below timber line in this valley before the road narrows down and meets up with the Browns Creek trail coming up from below. You'll have your choice of prime camp spots along the creek and ponds in the upper reaches of the trees here. From this basin, you will notice that 3 14ers and one of the Hundred Highest peaks are all equally accessable: Mt. Antero, Tabeguache, Mt. Shavano, and North Carbonate.

Route Description

From your camp in the Browns Creek valley, Tabeguache Peak will loom above you directly to the south. A straight line ascent of the north face from here would be short, but this face is far better seen and not climbed. Instead you will want to head southwest, following Browns Creek as it becomes a marsh in the wide basin above treeline. Ascend a steep tundra slope to gain the obvious saddle between Tabeguache and Carbonate Mountain. Once in the saddle, turn east and continue up the obvious ridgeline, the summit of which is Tabeguache Peak. Your hike will eventually instesect the old Jennings Creek route, which is now apparently closed. Continue west to the summit of Tabeguache and perhaps on to nearby Shavano.

For the decent, you can simply reverse your route OR, if you continue on to Shavano and would prefer not to hoof it back up Tabeguache a second time (quite the pain in the backside at the end of the day) there IS a gully that escapes the ridge to the north from the Tabeguache/Shavano saddle. This route is listed in Roach's guidebook as a snow climb, and appears to be fairly steep. However, good snow conditions, this gully could provide a speedy glissaide that would spit you out almost right back at your camp. Obviously, consider conditions and your own equipment when trying this option.

Essential Gear

Standard equipment for a class 2 peak bagging trip. An ice axe is necessary if attempting to glissaide the gully from the saddle back into Browns Creek.

Browns Creek

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