Browns Pass Hartenstein Lake Trail [CLOSED]

HARD 44 reviews

Browns Pass Hartenstein Lake Trail [CLOSED] is a 5.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, fishing, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.8 miles
1637 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips





wild flowers


This can be a challenging hike, especially if you are carrying multi-day packs, but it has beautiful views. The Brown's Pass trail starts off with an incline- it is a hard uphill hike for the first 2 miles. The trail itself is pretty rocky, which can cause some footing problems. Lake Harenstein is definitely doable as a day hike. 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.

2 days ago

Great hike, and wonderful views. I would rate the hike as moderate. Really enjoyed the aspen stands and although pretty much straight up, there are some breaks in the uphill with the trail leveling out in spots. Very nice up at the lake.

16 days ago

Trail was surprisingly dry for early spring conditions. No snow. The beginning is steep, but the aspen groves were pretty and there is a nice overlook about half-way to the lake. The lake wasn't as pretty as I had hoped with the green-brown color and marshy conditions that attracted lots of bugs. Most people take this TH to Yale, however, so we had the lake to ourselves. For more info and pics visit:

19 days ago

Some elevation but overall an easy hike, not too hard and great for a half day trip

22 days ago

Good trail, would love to do it again and fish! Water was cleared of snow and ice as of Memorial weekend.

23 days ago

There is one section that has snow on it. Easy to get around it. We saw a Snowshoe Hare and a Coyote.

27 days ago

Amazing hike! Beautiful aspens first mile in. Lake is well worth the hike for sure! Still not dry enough around the lake for hanging out right by it. Just a few good spots. Overall, amazing views and made for an awesome day on the mountain!

1 month ago

I really enjoyed the views of Mt Yale on our way back from the lake. There were some deep snowdrifts that we had to posthole through on the stretch between the lake and the Browns Pass junction but the trail was clear below that.

1 month ago

Did this in mid October, no people and snow once we got to the old cabin. A nice trip for a two night camp

3 months ago

We hiked this trail today (3/17/18) and it was stunning! Thanks to people who have been up blazing the trail to the lake. If not for the packed snow we might have gotten off track. We used crampons that were very helpful for entire hike. Snowshoes not necessary right now. The last .25 mile before the lake we post holed quite a bit, but the views were worth the snowy boots. Gorgeous day, with minimal wind. Love taking people from out of town here for a difficult, but rewarding hike!

5 months ago

Lovely trail today even in November after thanksgiving! Need some spikes but probably not snow shoes yet!

11 months ago

I've done this in the winter and summer. Summertime I've done the trail to Hartenstein Lake w/ my son and his friends when they were about 11. Personally I don't think it should be rated difficult unless you take the trail up to Yale. It was a fun first "real camping" trip for the kids.
In the winter if you're going to do it bring your snow shoes even if there is no snow down at the TH. I made this mistake once (LOL!!) and wound up postholing a good 2 miles in waste deep snow with my dog. That was a treat. Fun trail otherwise.
**** update*** I've done this trail numerous times over the years (winter/ summer) but never have I seen it as crowded as I did this past Wednesday- Friday(7/19-7/21)!!!! Trails are all getting crowded. On the plus side no one was camping out at the lake. It POURED out Wednesday night. Got up early and saw a moose on the other side of the lake before the hoardes started hiking up. All my times up there I've never seen one. Great to see with my son.

11 months ago

On July 6, 2017 - we hiked from Denny Creek to Browns Pass, went down to look at the old Brown's Cabin then back and up the switchback to the Yale shoulder and almost down to Kroenke Lake before a storm started to move in so we turned around. Vigorous hike with a few streams to walk through. Only one large patch of snow on the switchback to Kroenke. BEAUTIFUL views!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We hiked this trail on June 11th but only went as far as the cut off to the lake. Beyond that, it was pretty much snowbound. Didn't feel like plowing thru that much snow. And we talked to people who had post holed up to their waist. I'll wait till the trail is melted out before I go all the way. It starts out fairly steep, then it changes to a nice steady, easy pitch from there to the cut off. Nice views all along up and down.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We hiked this trail on June 6, 2017. It was quite beautiful with lots of scenic views and creeks. We had to get creative to cross the creek because it was deep and moving fast. We had to go upstream a bit to find a path across. It was doable but not super easy to do and stay dry. The last mile or so was very snowy but that was my favorite part of the hike - so beautiful! just make sure you have waterproof boots or shoes. The lake had a lot of snow on it and was a bit of a let-down but I hear it's quite beautiful in the summer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Snow packed past the turn off to the lake, but we still went up, it's a good hike for early summer, warn and sunny.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Great, moderately strenuous hike, with amazing views. Still covered with snow above 11,000 feet, which made it a bit more work getting up inclines, but it's all worth it. Turn for the lake before the sign, as the trail can get a little tricky to find.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

My husband and I snowshoes this trail in February. It was a beautiful hike and wish we should of made it all the way to the end but we were running out of daylight. We got the high point of the trail ~11,000 feet than turned around. The hike was very hard due to the steep incline but the views are worth every minute. We are going back to hike it when there is no snow.

Monday, August 22, 2016

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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Great hike, maybe better day two then day one. Start right away uphill. Beautiful vistas

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Really nice hike. Pretty steep uphill until 2 miles in. Crosses some streams.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Enjoyable early July hike, lots of windflowers along the way and an impressive finish at the lake.

Friday, November 20, 2015

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.

Monday, August 03, 2015

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.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

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.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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.

11 days ago

1 month ago

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