| Little Brown's Creek- alt route
Antero- Little Brown’s Creek route
Years ago, I climbed Antero from the Baldwin Creek side. I remember a pretty valley, miles and miles of 4x4 road, yielding to jeeps on the road, and driving up the brutal road to the creek that bottomed out my CRV several times. Good day, but my friend Matt was looking at doing Antero from the other side. I did some research, but found little- Roach wrote it up as a variation without definite mileage or elevation gain, and hiker63 had a great trip report about it. It was definitely much longer with more elevation gain, but I’m surprised how little you hear about this route- if you’re willing to work harder, it feels like a far superior route to me.
I left Denver at about 4:00AM, and along the way, nearly hit, in order, a dog, a fox, a wolf, a heard of elk with full racks, deer, and a solemn looking cow. Everytime I see a cow that close, I mutter under my breath, “See you at the Cricket.” Then we saw a group of antelope, and on the way home, a bird actually bounced off my windshield. Good day to see wildlife, bad day for the bird. Matt and I arrived at the trailhead about 6:30, confident of our directions, thanks to hiker63’s report. Matt forgot his GPS, but I used other high tech equipment to construct this map of our general route. If you have trouble viewing it, I used software consisting of some crayons and markers.
High tech map of the route with our times
The route starts low, at 8920 feet on the deck of the Arkansas River Valley, and climbs 5350 feet to the summit. Parking is quick and easy, and we were on the trail at 6:40. The first leg is 1.3 miles to the Colorado Trail on a strong trail. At this point, turn right, and go a very short distance, less than ten minutes, to the junction of trail 1430. From here, there is a strong trail for probably close to five miles. It meanders through a charming forest, and even though you pick up a great deal of elevation, it doesn’t feel straight up, but rolls along nicely, eventually popping out into a meadow for views of shoulders of Antero and White. The first section in the forest:
Beginning of the trail.
Their "map," clearly of inferior quality to mine.
Coming up of the first junction.
Sign at the first junction- turn right.
Second junction, less than ten minutes away.
Sign at the second junction. Turn left.
Mt. White appears through the trees.
Much of the forest is along Little Brown's Creek.
Typical trail in the forest.
Eventually, you make your way to timberline- we arrived at 8:50, and spill out into a beautiful meadow. This was when I got that “where else would I rather be?” feeling, and was so glad to have gotten up so early. To be clear, this was not five miles from the last junction- probably closer to three based on my time splits. We stopped to eat a bite and enjoy the views- Mt. White rises up on your left, and the shoulder of Antero is to the right. The trail grows faint at times the higher up you go and other trails appear off to the right climbing the sides of Antero. We chose one of these side routes, which appeared to be a time saver, but regretted it when we got to the top. Steep, loose, and beat us up, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. We agreed that the better approach would be to aim for the V in the top of the drainage, and the trail does go almost all the way to that top point, crossing the creek about halfway up. This is probably the only real route finding, but so long as you point off toward the right, left of the subpeak, you’ll be fine. Roads are found at the top of the meadow that will lead you to the standard route off to the right, and it becomes clear quickly where you are heading to summit Antero.
After a bite, we took off, weighing our options, eventually choosing a more well worn path off to the right, which went straight up. It was loose and sandy, and we agreed it was the only real frustrating part of the day. When we got there, we joined a road that went hard left, and met up with the standard route at the point when it wraps around the shoulder to Baldwin Gulch. There are signs with trail numbers at the junction, and the 4x4 switchbacks went up to the shoulder that would reveal the Antero summit. Pictures from the meadow :
Breaking into the meadow.
Looking back at timberline and the valley.
Entire basin- keeping aiming for the V at the top.
Off to the right, many trails appear. Ignor them!
Nearing the top.
Looking back at the meadow.
Gaining the 4x4 switchbacks.
Back at entire valley.
Terrific view of Shav/ Tab.
The switchbacks went quickly, and we gained the saddle before what can’t really be called a “catwalk,” but the thin ridge leading to the rise to the summit. A healthy, friendly mountain goat was waiting for us, maybe expecting us to show our tickets. We stopped to take pictures, and we walked to within five or six feet of us before peeling off to the left. I quoted the little girl from Despicable Me: “He’s so fluffy!” It was now 10:30, and I had been struggling a bit with my stomach, heavy legs, and a bit light headed. We crossed the ridge on an easy path, and I encouraged Matt to go on ahead for the summit push. Here we started to see other people, the first of the day. Everyone was friendly and happy on their way down, and by 11:00, Matt and I found ourselves on the summit, happy. We took a half an hour to rest, eat, and enjoy the views- clouds were starting to take shape, but we knew we had time. About a million gnat-like bugs started to use me as their perch, and they wouldn’t get off. I’ve never had so many bugs on me at one time.
The way back down went quickly to start- back to the saddle, and we rejoined the Little Brown’s Creek trail farther up in the meadow this time. Before we knew it we were back in the forest, feeling close to the car. From that point, it is a loooong haul out of there. A couple times we caught ourselves speculating on how long till the trailhead, and we would catch a glimpse through the trees of how far off the valley bottom was- it was waay down there. We were moving very fast, but four miles is still four miles. It’s not going to be a 20 minute walk. Finally we gained the junctions , and found ourselves dropping down the final ridge to the parking lot, with Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies waiting in the car.
Mountain goat checking credentials.
Ridge and final push to summit.
Summit shot of Matt.
On the top.
Back at saddle, happy, Antero behind.
Roads everywhere, sponsored by NASCAR.
Descending 4x4 switchbacks.
Regaining the trail.
This was a long day, but to me, a much higher reward than the standard route. If you’re looking for solitude, or just ways to make peaks more interesting, this would be a route worth trying.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):