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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.

This was my second visit to this trailhead. The first time I hiked to Columbia’s summit, and it was brutal. Most low clearance vehicles should be capable of getting to the trailhead. It starts off fairly easy-going and increases in intensity over the duration of the hike. There was quite a bit of post-holing going on over Memorial Day, but I would assume no issues going up now. The vegetation below tree line looks great, and there are several great campsites along the way. Next time I visit I’ll be hiking in a couple miles and stay overnight to get a head start on Mount Harvard.

hiking
1 day ago

A long steep hike with little reward.

I hiked to summit of the pass from the opposite side of twin lakes and it was very steep, kinda hard to get thru the beginning but once you break the aspen forest and you’re starting to break tree line the views are rewarding and it is absolutely worth the hike, definitely try to make it to summit of Hope Pass, you won’t regret it

By the time we were back at the trailhead, gps said it was over 12 Miles. This hike is tough and has a bit of every type of terrain. If you have hiking poles they may be helpful but not necessary. You need to park on the main road and then walk on a dirt road to the trailhead. Views from the summit are beautiful!

Incredibly beautiful views. But man, you had to earn this one. I’ve done a couple 14ers (Massive and Holy Cross) and this was probably the toughest. Shorter than the prior two, but the footing and terrain was incredibly difficult. Steep inclines, super challenging and steep switch backs.. a boulder field that seems to never end.. its one thing to struggle up, but seemed harder making it down while keeping footing. Quads, body, and soul are crushed.

That said, the views are second to none. Amazing.

Great weekday hike. Not crowded. Great conditions. No real snow except a few patches towards top. Amazing amazing amazing views! Wildflowers are out also. Dry, dusty, sandy hike with loose rock/gravel and numerous sections with both and small boulders to navigate. Mostly exposed. Couple of small stream crossings with narrow log bridges. Road to Denny trailhead is open, construction hasn’t started yet. Got hiking by 6 AM. Took us about 7 hours of actual hiking (4.5 to summit); 8.5 hours total with all stops included. Last mile or so is challenging. Rock scramble to summit and hard to see which path is best, so be careful. Stay towards the middle as you reach summit; sides of summit were more dicey with loose rock/gravel and fewer footholds. Enjoy!

No snow, nice steady incline to the top

hiking
8 days ago

One of my favorites yet. The views all the way up are spectacular. You can see all the work that has went into maintaining this trail over the years.Trail is 9.2miles round trip. Dogs on leash are allowed but they should be very good scramblers to make this summit. If your dog gets scared from exposure, large rock gaps, or water crossings, leave them at home.

hiking
9 days ago

My teenage boys and I spent several days in the Collegiate peaks Wilderness area last summer. On the 27th of July we made it to the summit of Mt. Harvard. We stayed the night along the trail at tree line and did the summit early. It was worth it. It was my 14 year old sons first 14er. Later in the week he would summit Mt. Sherman. In researching our trip for this year I noticed I didn't post anything from last year. We started at Denny Creek TH and spent our first night at Hartenstein Lake. From there we took Browns Pass over the CD and spent the second night at Kroenke Lake. The third day we went up the Horn Fork trail and camped at tree line just below Bear lake. The fourth Day we did the summit of Harvard very early then walked out past the North Cottonwood TH and picked up the Colorado Trail (Avalanche Gulch) going south back towards Highway 306. We spent the fifth night along the Colorado Trail and slowly came into the Avalanche Gulch TH the next day. I was having some knee problems by this point. This was my first multi-day backpacking adventure and although I had done extensive research and had a sub 30 lb pack, I still overpacked and didn't properly condition for the strain the descents would have on my knees. Other than Mosquitos at the lakes and my old knees the trip was great!!

Beautiful views and trails!

Trail was surprisingly dry for early spring conditions. No snow. The beginning is steep, but the aspen groves were pretty and there is a nice overlook about half-way to the lake. The lake wasn't as pretty as I had hoped with the green-brown color and marshy conditions that attracted lots of bugs. Most people take this TH to Yale, however, so we had the lake to ourselves. For more info and pics visit: https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/06/06/roadtrip-to-the-rockies-hiking-in-buena-vista/

backpacking
15 days ago

This was the first hike I have ever done, we are from Oklahoma and thought it was going to be to hard, it was challenging but we made it, there are 4 mining cabins along the way and 2 Creek crossing. You are able to see Twin lakes from the top. At the lake there or plenty of beautiful cut throat trout to catch so bring your fly rod. This is a beautiful place.

Super tough for our group of 10 ranging in ages 9-49. 2 made it to the very top (including the 49 year-old), 3 more of us made it to 13,500 (including the 9 year old). But everyone else had to turn around almost half way up because of the steep incline. Definitely did a lot of snow sliding on the way down. Very exhausting hike for us. Lots of water bottles was needed. Beautiful views and great pictures!

Some elevation but overall an easy hike, not too hard and great for a half day trip

hiking
17 days ago

This one makes you earn it. Scenic hike thru the woods to start, and then you hit the "stairmaster"(you'll know when you hit it). Elevation gain gets real once you're out of the treeline. Snow causes a bit of improv when it comes to the trail from about 12,500 on. Cairns will help you from 13,000 on, but go with with what's comfortable, and keep winding up to the left. Head too far right and you'll go well out of your way. Lots of friendly "critters" at the top, and the views were some of the best! Started around 7am and reached the summit by 12:30. Took our time with all the wind, but blue skies. Got back to the car by 3pm. Getting down to about 12,000 can take some time. I recommend sliding while there's snow.

hard hike, but it is so worth it. super windy when we got out of the tree line and the trail isn't marked very well so you have to pay close attention.

Good trail, would love to do it again and fish! Water was cleared of snow and ice as of Memorial weekend.

There is one section that has snow on it. Easy to get around it. We saw a Snowshoe Hare and a Coyote.

Summited this one for the second time over the weekend. Awesome 14'er to start the summer season. There were still a few sections of snowpack, but nothing that would require spikes. Yale has one of the best views of a majority of the 14'ers, so hang in there for the climb up the tundra.

Amazing hike! Beautiful aspens first mile in. Lake is well worth the hike for sure! Still not dry enough around the lake for hanging out right by it. Just a few good spots. Overall, amazing views and made for an awesome day on the mountain!

On 5/12/18 backpacked up to the lake. The snow made it pretty miserable for the last 1.5 miles. We were falling in waist deep. There was hardly any areas without snow to camp out at, but found a spot surrounded by trees to help block out some wind. We were the only souls out there that I know of. No one or animal in sight. The next morning walked to the lake to enjoy the gorgeous view. The hike back was not as bad because we already made the footprints to step in and the snow hardened so at times it was ok to walk on top of.

Didn’t make it all the way to the lake because of snow making the trail hard to follow. Beautiful

beautiful hike, about 3 miles up ran into deep snow drifts and turned around. Need to go back in a couple months.

hiking
1 month ago

Wow
Was doing training for COLORADO Trail this summer
Took full 27 pound pack for training
Perfect weather
Really tiring elevation change
Had snow n ice on trail
Got worst as you went higher
Turned around about have away
Did not want to take a chance of slipping n falling with full pack
Great signage

I really enjoyed the views of Mt Yale on our way back from the lake. There were some deep snowdrifts that we had to posthole through on the stretch between the lake and the Browns Pass junction but the trail was clear below that.

Summited this pretty late in the season. The trail was easy to follow below treeline. Traces of snow but mostly dry and clearly marked. Most everything above treeline was snow-covered to the point that I lost the trail and ended up scrambling to the summit. I had no sense of where the trail was for the last quarter mile. Views from the top were incredible, though! Definitely a difficult hike but well worth it.

Not an easy trail in spring weather, snow was soft and not stable. Still doable for determined people. Had to change between spike to snowshoes to often. Made it to the top an it was all worth it. Views are stunning!

Did this in mid October, no people and snow once we got to the old cabin. A nice trip for a two night camp

camping
1 month ago

awesome overnighter hike to take it easy. theres sites close to the lake. beautiful crystal clear streams feeding the lake and draining. I made it a 2 nighter and went up to bear lake the next day. camped in the horn fork basin area..breathtaking views of the collegiate peaks when you get up to bear lake. from bear you can summit mt. Harvard. one of my fave hikes in the collegiate peaks. plenty of water sources.

This was my first 14er. Not from altitude, and even with both Tylenol 1g and 400mg ibuprofen I still had a pounding headache above 12.5k. That didn't stop me from loving this hike though.

Really tough. Super short of breath. But the views at the end were absolutely amazing. The hike up varied a lot in terrain, and I loved every section of it. Coming down was hard. Lost my way a few times even with a GPS app since the trail was not well marked.

Would do this again.

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