Backpack to Payne Creek

19 miles 2650 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Kathleen Morton

This 2-day backpacking trip is easily accessible from Denver, but is less-frequented enough that you could go a few miles without running into a fellow hiker.

Day 1:
Park at the Payne Creek/Brookside Trailhead (8,040 ft.) right outside Bailey. You'll go on the trail for about a mile before the trail parts to Craig Meadows or Craig Park. If you start this in the nighttime, it's best to camp before you part ways on the trail as it's a little more spacious once the trail divides. However, assuming you start in the daytime, head left to go toward Craig Meadows and climb an old logging road. Once you get to an aspen grove, this is a great spot to take a break. When you get to Craig Creek, you can easily stop to try your hand at fishing in the creek. Word is this is a great spot.

You'll begin to climb and arrive at the Colorado Trail (9,300 ft.). I would recommend camping near Craig Creek or somewhere when you arrive at the intersection of the Colorado Trail.

Day 2:
In the morning, you can go exploring further on the trail or head back toward your car at the trailhead.

Note: This trip is roughly 19 miles depending on how adventurous you’re feeling and how many miles you want to pursue. It's a designated wilderness, so you can camp anywhere along the trail. The best places to camp are along Craig Creek, and that is roughly 8 miles from the trailhead.

Please help keep Wilderness wild by following Leave No Trace practices.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
River

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Awesome Weekend Backpacking Trip

A friend and I turned this into a two-night trip, driving to the trailhead and camping just off the Brookside trailhead and leaving in the early morning. It's about 9 miles to Payne Creek near the CT and it's a fairly simple hike. The first third is easy going but the second third is very steep uphill climb along the "logging road." With a full pack this is very strenuous. The last portion is a gentle downhill into the meadows and valley. The way back is an easy enough hike assuming you didn't blow yourself out the next day. Excellent views, a few convenient campsites along the river and an overall great experience. Would recommend to anyone. Didn't see a soul (although we went on a cold and snowy April weekend).

Great beginner trip

I did this trip as a one-nighter in late August. The weather was perfect, the hike was challenging, but not overwhelming, and there were very few other people on the trail. This is an excellent trek! Be warned, the dirt road to the parking lot has been partially washed out. Cars with low clearance may get scraped or stuck!

Stay Nearby

28707 Redskin Creek Road

Buffalo Campground

Overview Buffalo Campground is one of two facilities within the Buffalo Creek Recreation Area, about an hour's drive southwest of Denver, Colorado. Visitors enjoy a variety of recreational opportun...

Pine, Colorado

Meadows Group Campground

Overview Meadows Group Campground offers a wonderful opportunity for groups to enjoy the great outdoors. Located just 45 miles south of Denver near the town of Buffalo Creek, Colorado, the campgrou...

Colorado Trail

Kenosha Pass Campground

Overview Kenosha Pass Campground is a small, conveniently-located campground heralded by backpackers on the Colorado Trail and by those looking for a scenic, mountain family getaway. Across the roa...

Jefferson, Colorado

Timberline Campground

Overview The Timberline Campground, near Kenosha Pass, is about 7 miles southwest of the small town of Grant. The abundance of aspens at the site creates impressive fall scenery along the forested ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Camping at Lost Park Campground

    This campground is a great spot to crash at before heading out on a backpacking trip through the Lost Creek Wilderness but serves as an amazing campground itself. The area immediately surrounding the campground is beautiful. There are 12 campsites...

  • Backpack Lost Creek

    I included a trail map of where I camped. There are many sites all throughout this area. From the Lost Park Campground Parking lot follow the Lost Creek for 2.4 miles. At the 1 mile mark was the best place that we found to cross the creek (there a...

    5 miles

  • Hike to Elk Falls

    Begin on Staunton Ranch Trail for 3.3 miles. Switch to Bugling Elk Trail for the next 1.1 miles, then to Lion's Back Trail for the last mile to the overlook. There are a couple ways to navigate to the falls – alternatively, you can take Scout Line...

    10.8 miles

  • Hike at Kenosha Pass

    The Colorado Trail (http://www.coloradotrail.org) is 500 miles long and stretches from Denver to Durango. Perhaps the most-traveled portion of the Colorado Trail is at Kenosha Pass. Kenosha Pass is well-known for its thick, colorful stands of aspe...

    8 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More