Brown’s Pass is situated in the Pike National Forest a few miles south of Fairplay, Colorado. This area of South Park is remote and far less traveled than other passes, making it a desirable destination for weekend overland exploration. Brown’s Pass features moderate climbs and descents, with several connected roads providing spectacular views above the timberline. Brown's Pass closes seasonally each year from January 1 to June 15th.
From Denver, take Highway 285 past Fairplay and turn right on County Road 20 for approximately one mile, then turn right on County Road 658, marked as Brown's Pass.
From Colorado Springs, take Highway 24 west to Hartsel, then Highway 9 north toward Fairplay. At the intersection with Highway 285 south of Fairplay, turn left for approximately two miles. Turn right on County Road 20 for approximately one mile, then turn right on County Road 658, marked as Brown's Pass.
Alternatively from both, drive Brown’s Pass as a loop combined with Breakneck Pass; proceed one mile further down Highway 285 to Highway 5, turn right for 1.75 miles, and look for Breakneck Pass trailhead markers on the right.
Land Use Issues
In accordance with USDA Forest Service Order, Number PSICC-2016-15 dated 1 November 2016 , numerous roads and trails are closed for a specified period.
Brown's Pass / FS Road 176 is closed to motor vehicle use, except as indicated, pursuant to the stated order for the period 1 January to 15 June, annually.
This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 which requires the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation proceeds over the next 5 years.
Drove Brown's Pass on Sunday, July 28, 2019. Found the road in very good condition; as mentioned, there has been some dozer work to create better drainages. I saw little traffic so this is a great place to get away!
Did Breakneck Pass and Brown's Pass this trip. Trail clear and open. I drive a stock Colorado Z71 and I ran the majority of the two (except for the two steep climbs) in 2WD. A beautiful area, and not too busy. Lots of pullout camping spots for the rooftop tent crowd. A few beautiful, wide meadows for ground tent camping. Plenty of trees for hammocks too, if you're into that.
There are two points on the trail that were really fun. Both Breakneck and Brown's Pass have one steep, rocky climb to them. It's nothing a stock high-clearance 4-Lo vehicle can't handle, though. The rest of the trail is mostly undulating, occasionally rocky Forrest service roads. Great views!
The ending 1/4 of Brown's Pass has recently (like 1-2 days before we got there) been graded by some large machinery. They may be doing some work on it or something, so keep your plans flexible. It's totally possible (and more fun) to turn around and go back through Brown's and Breakneck if you find a roadblock.
We did this trail in tandem with Breakneck Pass. Brown's Pass is very mild, mostly pretty smooth, and easy to navigate. Very dry and dusty right now.
There are a few narrow spots where passing oncoming vehicles may require backing up to find a pull-off spot. There are a lot of trees and bushes close to the trail.
I ran Browns and Breakneck Pass while looking for a camping spot. Both trails are clear, and are completely dry and dusty. They could use a little rain to do away with some dust. After strong winds, there could possibly be trees down on either trail so plan accordingly.
Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. His family moved to central Utah when Tracy was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah, where he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. He started many years ago in his dad's F-150 pickup truck, and subsequently his own 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991).