With eight "fourteeners" (peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation), Collegiate Peaks Wilderness probably possesses the highest average elevation of any Wilderness in the Lower 48. You can climb Mounts Yale, Oxford, Columbia, and Harvard (the state's third highest point), as well as Huron Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mount Belford, and La Plata Peak (the state's fifth highest point).Climbing these peaks is a very popular activity, making opportunities for solitude very elusive. Expect to be inundated by people and their dogs on any "fourteener" trail. As you travel through the area, you might notice unusual and deep indentations in the boundary line. These are a legacy of man's hunt for gold and other valuable metals that are still sought just outside. More than a dozen trailheads create a situation in which no one ever stands more than five miles from a road. About 40 miles of the serpentine Continental Divide snake across the area, and this expansive Wilderness lies in parts of three national forests. The beauty of this place and its ease of access ensure torrents of visitors, especially on weekends. Please help keep Wilderness wild by following Leave No Trace practices. In particular, please refrain from having camp fires near treeline. The dwarfed Krummholtz trees that grow there are taking a beating from insensitive campers.
I reached La Plata's peak on November 6, 2016. This is a very difficult 14er with great views. But make no mistake, the last several hours (it took almost 8 hours up and six hours back) are CLIMBING, not hiking. There was also about a foot of snow at the higher elevations.
The Best! This is an absolutely top notch 14er. I've done a couple dozen 14ers since moving to Colorado and La Plata is one of the few that I would happily do over and over again.
Solid gain, well kept trail and spectacular views.
Tips: make sure to follow the trail closely for the first bit. A couple of people have mentioned they took a wrong turn off the main trail shortly after the trailhead.
It's early October and a little snow fell a couple days ago, but today was perfect and some of the snow had melted, so no issue there. Got going around 9am, took our time going up to the lake (about 2 hours+). Then hustled down. all in all a beautiful hike. Pretty long hike and pretty much goes up the whole way, but not steep, just gradual. All in all a good solid hike and we're tired.
Excellent trail, easy to follow the entire way. Not really any false summits since you can see the actual summit once you leave tree line but don't let the last couple miles of switchbacks deter you. They are brutal but totally worth it once your at the top.
Wonderful trail with wonderful views..leave early enough to make it to the top before the afternoon thunderstorms and hail between 12pm and 12:30pm is reasonable to summit. Took me 6 hours to get to the top and 3 1/2 hours to get down. Most breathtaking views ive seen so far hiking in colorado. The last push up to the top is the most challenging. If you want to hike mount columbia as well..i suggest camping off the trail and doing them on seperate days. Everyone i spoke to on the trail about traversing over stated its very challenging and loose rock to traverse with not much of a path. Enjoy!
Awesome Spot! Absolutely beautiful views after a very mellow hike in and out. We ended up doing the hike on Saturday afternoon, and then returned to the trail head to camp in our car. We liked the hike so much that we actually got up at 4am to catch the sunrise at the lake. I would highly reccomend this hike to any novice campers or hikers. It's a very mellow hike that is well kept. Enjoy!
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.
Great day hike or beginners backpacking trip. Due to the number of people at the lake it, it felt more like a campsite then backcountry, giving it a 4 not a 5. However, the overall hike was great. Lots of shade and running water. The incline was steady until the last push, but the lake is worth it. If you are camping or have a little left in you, continue another 0.5 mile up towards Brown's Pass. The overview of the lake is breathtaking. If you have even more energy continue 1.5 miles and 1300 ft of elevation gain from the lake to the top of the Brown's Pass for some killer views of the surrounding 13ers and 14ers.
** I would recommend hiking shoes just due to the number of water crossings on this trail. I would also suggest arriving early in the day due to the number of backpackers and limited spots.