Explore Buena Vista 2018 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Buena Vista 2018 Map
54 minutes ago

Well we woke up late but had originally planned a 14er so we had that mentality going into this hike that we chose super last minute without much research, just to put this review in perspective. We got to the monte Escondido road around 9:30 and got hiking up the road around 9:45 due to us driving a corolla we knew we wouldn’t make it up the road. Definitely requires an suv. Hiking up and back down the road was the worst part for us. Once we got to the clearly marked trailhead there’s a while where it is relatively flat and shady which is a nice break from the uphill and sunny road. Soon after the creek crossing you start heading straight up the mountain that is steep and almost completely rocky. We took plenty of water breaks and had the same amount of water we were planning for the 14er. Hiking poles also helped a ton. At the Colorado wilderness trail you go left and within a short distance you see a small lake on the right and then a little further down the trail you get to the large lake. We walked around to the far side for our lunch break which offered beautiful Mountain Views and shade. We set up our hammock - bring one! We made it here around 1, remember we were taking plenty of breaks and I was fighting a chest cold so if you hauled straight up it wouldn’t take you nearly this long. Headed back down around 2 and made it back to the car at 3:15. Very steep and slippery heading down on the rocks again hiking poles were super helpful. Overall, we enjoyed the trail. A lot of comments about it being dead and boring but we saw plenty of aspens, birds, even some wildflowers. Recommend and would do again!

A really nice hike with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and some old mining ruins.
There were several ATV's on the trail but everyone I encountered was nice and we all shared the path well. As stated in other comments, the trail does get narrow at points if you are in a vehicle of any kind, but for hiking there is plenty of room.

great trail, did it yesterday. definitely not easy you will be climbing up up up for a while! well worth it one of the most beautiful hikes I've done. the lake is so serene and the surrounding area is gorgeous. jus be prepared for a steep hike that doesn't quit! easy to follow and well maintained

Has anyone ever made it to the lake?

on Iron Chest Mine

4 days ago

The dog's name is Bentley. Also goes by Bear & Brad. This info is posted in BV all around town. I hope he's found!

Beautiful trail with spectacular waterfall

5 days ago

There is a missing dog on this trail. He is a one yr old goldendoodle. He was ejected from a Jeep. The red Jeep is still there. Please be on the lookout. This was a fatality and rollover down the mountain about 600 ft. At about 11000 ft. The family is from Kansas and desperately are hoping he can be found. He ran down the hill after the accident on 8/7. He is still missing as of 8/15/18. Please call Teema at 316 304 1055.

He is friendly but please do not chase him. Sit quietly and offer food. The St Elmo general
Store is familiar, or you can take him to Buena Vista Humane Society. There are also locals that could take him and get him back to his owner in Kansas. We also would like to get him to a vet ASAP.. He was last seen w a possibly blue collar one. He is microchipped. Thanks for looking!
I will take this down when found.....

There are very large boulders and rocks to negotiate in the beginning, but it gets better. Pretty steep hike. Not marked well but beautiful views. I wouldn’t drive up this. It’s narrow in many places and not easy to turn around. I saw some can ams struggling over the rocks.. The rock is marked w tape where the lady tried to go around and rolled.. very narrow there..

This hike was absolutely beautiful! The falls and the views were totally worth the above moderate climb.

One of my favorite hikes. It does have a bit of a steep start and it's exposed so the sun can feel really intense. After it levels out it's a great hike through rocks and trees, over a few small streams. You come to a small meadow with amazing views then the waterfall...so gorgeous!
We timed it right and had it too ourselves for about 20 minutes. The water was cold and refreshing.
We have horses and don't care that there's poop on the trail.
We also don't mind people because they're just out enjoying it too.

On the drive here make sure you pay attention to private property/no park access signs. Apple maps sent us driving through a private development that does not connect, and we had to retrace our steps and follow the signs on the road.

The hike itself was fairly dry and scrubby for the first mile or so, before getting more woodsy. The waterfall is beautiful! Make sure you don't miss the left turn to the falls, we accidentally continued on towards the lake for a few minutes before realizing we had passed the falls. The hike was fairly busy, we saw several groups of people, particularly around the falls.

off road driving
16 days ago

Great trail, but lots of traffic. Alpine Tunnel was completely closed so we ended up going over the pass and landing in Pitkin. Great camping down Marble Quartz just before you get to Pitkin.

Great first hike for the family in Colorado. Beautiful views along the way made way for a nice waterfall. We started at 8am and did not see another person until close to the waterfall. Way back was many people. Start on the early side. Kids age 9 - 15 did pretty good. Quite a few water breaks on the way up but they did It.

Well worth the time to see the beautiful falls. We were there on a Monday mid day and it was quite crowded. Tough hike up, easy hike back.

Beautiful hike! Lots of horse poop and plenty of people but still a perfect day.

Great hike to to a beautiful water fall! Totally worth it!

Outstanding trail. Great for a family hike. Loved the waterfall and spring fed streams.

There is a lot of horse poop, for sure. But the payoff is worth it!

Lots of horse poop!!! Otherwise a great hike with an awesome finish!

29 days ago

I took my mother who is visiting from the east coast on this hike as an intro/easier hike at altitude so she could acclimate. We started around 8:30am on a Sunday morning and there was no one around. For the duration of the hike, we only saw 4 people total, which is rare for this time of year and type of hike.

Specific directions and tips:
— If you don’t have a high-clearance vehicle, I would park at the base of the road and walk up the 0.9 miles to the sign reading “3 Elk Trail.” I have a Honda Accord and didn’t want to risk it.
— Nowhere on the hike will you find any signage saying “Harvard Lakes trail.”
— At the sign reading 3 Elk Trail, turn left and continue along the logging trail.
— You’ll cross the creek a few times and meander through the woods, before the trail intersects the Colorado Trail. This is about 1.7 miles from the 3 Elk Trail sign.
— Turn left (West) onto the Colorado Trail, and you’ll hit the first, smaller lake on your right. Continue along the trail and you’ll soon see the second, larger lake on your left.
— There’s an unofficial trail that loops the lake, with a few remnants of campsites.

There weren’t many wildflowers along the trail since the climate has been so dry. Still a wonderful, beautiful hike. I recommend getting an early start since it gets hot quite quickly.

Excellent hike! Plan on good boots and poles as most of the trail is rocky.

Amazing waterfall. Not too crowded during the week.

Beautiful hike. Waterfall was pretty, but a bit crowded even in the middle of the week.

It is not uphill all the way to the falls. Hike starts at an incline with some rocks, soon levels out. You can hear the creek the whole way. Nicely done bridges to cross the water. AmAzInG waterfall! I'm not a fast hiker. It took me just 3 hours from start to finish. Can't wait to do it in snow shoes!

*and yes the horse poo is painful and attracts crazy flies

My friends and I loved this hike. We hiked this when impending thunderstorms cancelled a 14er attempt. We were very happy with this climb and then easy stroll through the forest. Some really great views of the valley and the surrounding 14ers. Trail description is very accurate. Some intense sun exposure at times, especially on the first half climb. Signage is easy to follow.

The waterfalls were well worth the hike- much larger than I was expecting and the mist felt so good! I highly recommend this hike.

off road driving
1 month ago

This trail was awesome! I am a novice in the off roading realm and this trail was a great place to start. We went up here to camp and were not disappointed. There are plenty of areas to set up a tent and they’re far enough away from the other spots you’re not disturbed. 4x4 is definitely recommended along with proper clearance. My stock Xterra did great! When you come to the water crossing you can cross the water for Mt. Antero or go straight to Baldwin Lake. I tried to go up to Baldwin lake but either my vehicle or my nerves couldn’t handle it and I had to stick to Mt. Antero. Everyone on the trail whether in a Jeep, ATV, motorcycle or other SUV was very polite. Hit this trail!

It is a uphill hike all the way to the falls. Somewhat rocky but well worth it once you reach the top. The hike back down was extremely easy but the hike there takes a toll

I first hiked this trail with my hiking group. I was amazed at the diversity of the trail and beautiful waterfall at the end. I took my husband, kids and friends the following year. Slightly strenuous at the beginning then levels out. Be sure and eat lunch by the falls and enjoy the mist... it’s heavenly.

There is a lot of contradictory information about this trail in reviews. Here is the truth. Number one, the road to the trailhead is less than a mile and drivable if you have a high-clearance vehicle. Just go slow. If you do not it's a pretty short walk. The distance is 5.4 out and back with the road walk. Number two, the trail name is 3 Elk, not Harvard Lakes, and you do need to go left at the Colorado Trail sign. The vast majority of the trail is a fairly steep incline and not at all scenic. There are tons of dead trees and juniper bushes and no wildflowers or wildlife. There are a couple of short stretches where you are along a stream that is very pretty. The lakes at the top are pretty with a nice view of Mount Columbia but I would say not worth a subpar hike to get to them. If you want a good workout that's pretty short this is ok. If you're not in good shape, this will not be fun. If you are doing this as a substitute for Ptarmigan Trail because the road is closed you may want to reconsider. I am from Colorado and this is a very meh trail.

1 month ago

Great hike along creek to the lakes with some Colorado ladies! At times it was steep and rocky. Definitely make sure you turn right up the road to the 3 Elk Trailhead so you don’t have to hike the extra mile in and out.

Pretty packed but a great trail with water along the way

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