Browns Pass Hartenstein Lake Trail is a 5.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, CO that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, fishing, and snowshoeing and is accessible from June until October.
Head west on Main Street out of Buena Vista, which turns into Cottonwood Pass,drive to the Denny Creek Trailhead.
A friend and I started at the Denny Creek trail head and backpacked to Lake Kroenke over Brown's Pass. It was a hard hike, especially with us carrying multi-day packs, but had beautiful views. The Brown's Pass trail starts off with an incline and as other reviews say, is a hard uphill hike for the first 2 miles. The trail itself is pretty rocky, which caused some footing problems with heavy packs (mine was 55, his was 75 with lots of camera gear). Lake Harenstein is definitely doable as a day hike, and we saw lots of day hikers with dogs and minimal packs. There are some lovely little camping spots with fire rings and ample sources of water that make it a nice backpacking option for those looking to spend a bit more time out. Taking the trail past Lake Harenstein to Lake Kroenke was rough, especially a series of four switchbacks that had intense elevation climb. But the way out was a breeze. Hiking in to Lake Kroenke (about 7 miles) took us 6.5 hours in, out was 4.5 hours, including several breaks for snacks/water/lunch/pictures.
Great hike, maybe better day two then day one. Start right away uphill. Beautiful vistas
Steep uphill at the beginning of the hike and for several intermittent portions. We started at 5pm in July and it was peaceful. No crowds, sounds of the streams/waterfall follow you as you hike. There are gorgeous vantage points near the end.
Really nice hike. Pretty steep uphill until 2 miles in. Crosses some streams.
Enjoyable early July hike, lots of windflowers along the way and an impressive finish at the lake.
Hiked up to the lake this October and was blown away. Maybe someday I will get used to Colorado and her majestic beauty, but for now I am like a kid at Christmas. The Lake was beautiful, but the hike up, especially once past the Yale turnoff is really fun. Lots of rocks areas and cool break/chill spots. We never made it to Browns pass as we preferred to simply bliss out on the perfect cloudless skies, and the crisp cool autumn air.
We hiked to the lake mid-July 2015 and enjoyed beautiful wildflowers most of the way up. We saw a bull moose when we arrived at the lake! A great hike that is steep about the first third of the hike. Because of weather rolling in we did not make it up to Browns Pass, but still loved the hike.
We did the Hartenstein Lake turnoff, but probably the best thing about this trail is the number of options. You can go the easy route like us, a bit more difficult up to the pass, or summit Yale. It also links up to a number of other trails from the pass. The views are great and the lake is a typical, beautiful mountain lake. It is pretty steep on the way out, definitely a workout. But on the bright side, the trip back is a piece of cake.
Hands down my favorite hike in the Buena Vista area is the hike to Brown's Pass. Gorgeous views from the pass and along the way and a variety of terrain make this very enjoyable. I wouldn't bother taking the turn off to Hartenstein, though. Not terribly scenic.