Like most of its neighbors it has a wide open grassy summit area which overs expansive views of the surrounding area. Most of the trail is crossing dense conifer and pine forest, views are very limited.
Unfortunately my camera went out of juice right when I started my hike, so the site must do without pictures for now.
Drive on US 285 to Bailey and turn left on CR 64 right across the Conoco Gas Station. Follow CR 64 for 2.6 miles (only the first 0.4 miles are paved) to the sign for Payne Creek-Brookside Trailhead. Turn left and you find a large parking area for trail head parking 300 ft down a bumpy side road.
Drive on US 285 to the small hamlet of Shawnee and turn right onto CR 64 right at the edge of "town". Its a couple miles of good gravel road to the trailhead from here (in winter probably better to go first to Bailey to limit the amount of iced/snow covered gravel road)
Trailhead parking in winter may be not available because of snow condition!
Hike is very straightforward. Take the combined Brookside Trail (#607) / Payne Gulch Trail (#635) from the parking area (8020ft). Both trails split after 1.1 miles in an aspen grove. Turn right and follow the Brookside Trail all the way up to the saddle (11200 ft) between No Payne Benchmark (left) and No Payne (right). Leave the trail before it starts descending to Craig Park. Stay on the ridge and head north. Bypass two major rock outcroppings on the ridge on their eastern (right) sides to avoid unnecessary altitude loss and eventually hike up the grassy slopes of the main summit. This is a simple walkup without any scrambling/climbing involved. Roundtrip distance is around 13 miles.
From NFS website:
The Forest Service is implementing a mandatory self-issuing permit system in the Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wildernesses to enable us to better manage these heavily visited Wildernesses. The same type of system is already in place in other Wildernesses. The intent is to use the data obtained through this permit system to more accurately assess the amounts and types of existing Wilderness use. This will enable us to better preserve their natural condition for future generations, balanced against the pressures of growing populations and increased use. These permits have no quotas associated with them nor will there be any fees required to obtain them. They will be available free at each trailhead. As you enter the Wilderness, fill out the provided permit and deposit the white paper copy in the slot in the lower front of the register box. Keep the yellow tag in your possession and please follow the Wilderness regulations found on the back.
The permit box for Brookside Trail is about 2 miles up the trail
When to Climb
Mountain can be climbed year round.
Summers are hot and are the most crowded season of the year
Winter and Spring - trail head parking may not be always plowed and ease of hike depends on snow condition
Fall - best time for this hike
No established camp sites. Two areas are suitable for camping along the upper reaches of trail (below the pass) and Craig Park has an abundance of possible camp site.
The forests around No Payne are a tinderbox, lots of downfalls, very dry forests - be EXTREMELY careful with open fire even if there is no fire ban, an open camp fire on the wrong day can probably set the whole mountain side on fire in no time...
More information about Brookside Trail + Map on NFS Website