Part of the Lost Creek Wilderness trails. Begins at the Payne Creek Brookside Trailhead and terminates at the Colorado Trail.
This trail provides access into the northeast portion of the Lost Creek Wilderness. It is a relatively gentle trail overall, climbing gradually through ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests and an aspen grove created by a 135 acre fire in 1926. It then descends into open meadows along Craig Creek. Payne Creek is named for Jim Payne, who once logged the area and had a mill two miles up the creek from the Platte River. Payne and others logged all the way up the valley to the divide between Payne Creek and Craig Creek in the late 1800's and early 1900's. There are sites suitable for overnight camping in Craig Meadows. Because most of the Payne Creek Trail is in designated wilderness, Wilderness regulations apply.
Leaving the trailhead near Bailey, the Payne Creek Trail and the Brookside-McCurdy Trail rise gently and soon reach a trail junction at the foot of a large private meadow. Here the two trails diverge, with the Payne Creek Trail bearing left and the Brookside-McCurdy Trail bearing right. The trail crosses a small drainage and then rises gradually along the west side of Payne Gulch, crossing the wilderness boundary. The next stretch from the Payne Creek crossing to the high point is fairly steep as the trail climbs up an old logging road. This climb puts hikers into a pleasant aspen grove, which is a great place to take a break. The trail now begins to descend into the Craig Creek drainage. In the large open meadow along Craig Creek, the trail first runs down the north side of the creek, then crosses to the south. The trail then continues in a southeasterly direction until you reach the Bluestem Draw flowing north into Craig Creek. Shortly thereafter, the trail crosses another unnamed drainage flowing north into Craig Creek and begins to climb out of the Craig Creek drainage to meet the Colorado Trail.
The Payne Creek Trail is the starting point for the Payne Creek Trail and the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. It also is one access points for the Craig Creek trail off of the Brookside-McCurdy Trail.
Check out the Official Route.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.