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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.

As others have stated, the most challenging part of the trail is above the tree line. Challenging but well worth the views at the top!

great views the whole way up
well worth the effort

Lovely trail today even in November after thanksgiving! Need some spikes but probably not snow shoes yet!

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike to get the blood flowing. I got a late start Friday the 27th. I was hoping to make it to the lake but with the heavy pack and not being acclimated to this Colorado elevation, it took its toll. Luckily there are multiple camping spots along the way. The last mile and a half seemed to have fewer camping spots though so just a heads up. Plenty of places to get water and the elevation gain is steady. I made it to the lake the next morning. It is already starting to freeze over. Was hoping to fish but it was too windy to cast and it was at least 15 degrees colder than 1 trail mile down. Great looking spot though! My dog lived the hike too!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail in late October. Had wanted to get to CO to hike a 14'er a month or two ago, but work got in the way. Picked this 14er due to the fact that it has a South approach, and most North approach 14ers have much more snow now. From San Antonio so the elevation was a challenge. Read somewhere about pressure breathing, and it did seem to help. Started at 7:30am, summitted at about 12:30. 5 hours up, 3.5 down. Trail is more like 4.9 miles one way though. Tough trail (for me), but the views are spectacular. Once I got to the saddle, the last ~100-150ft are just sheer boulders. I considered stopping at the saddle because the trail to the top is barely visible. Probably made up my own trail the rest of the way, but decided "I came all this way, why quit now". Totally worth it. Barely any wind. It was probably in the high 30's at the top, but was still stripping off layers due to the strenuous work. Definitely recommend.

backpacking
4 months ago

10/15/17

Challenging hike to the summit, but manageable at this time of year. Shouldn’t be much trouble during the summer. We hiked with our overnight packs to the end of the timberline and set up camp. Then, we finished the hike with a light pack to the top and returned to our camp before sundown. Amazing views. Lots of wildlife. We will definitely be back.

This trail is beautiful. We hiked through lots of snow and enjoyed every minute of the trails. View up top is amazing. We did not have snow shoes but could really have used some toward the top. Highly recommend!

camping
4 months ago

Horn Fork Basin is my favorite place in the state to be.
So much can be done in a 2-3 day stretch.
Harvard is a must as well as Bear Lake nearby.
love love love.

For the adventurous...take the right fork and head up to Horn Fork Basin.
Camping is usually available right after treeline and you sit underneath Columbia and Harvard.
Probably my fave camp spot even if you don't bag the 14ers.

hiking
4 months ago

Decent work to get there and the pay off once there well worth it. Fur kids enjoyed it too!

My wife and I hiked up to Hope Pass the final weekend of August and it was an absolutely wonderful hike. The trail begins in a parking lot as a gravel bed off of 82 and is marked as the willis gulch trailhead. The trail begins as a steep ascent through pine and aspen growth. Mt Elbert reveals itself to the north in periodic openings in the tree cover. After making a stream crossing over the bridge, the trail heads aggressively uphill with no switchbacks. A junction in the trail will mark the way to Willis Gulch off to the right, keeping straight will take you to hope pass. Once emerging from the tree line, a beautiful alpine landscape surround you in all directions. Continue on up the trail to final switchbacks up to hope pass. These switchbacks are a bit of a kick in the butt for weary legs but the views to the south at the top of the pass are well worth it. Once at the top it appears there is a social trail leading to the top of quail mountain. Not sure if it would be recommended to make this trip for the sake of preventing erosion, but it appears that many travelers have taken the route. I was tempted myself, but we opted to have a snack in the pass and head back down. The whole trip took us about 5 hours including breaks.

Hiked this trail on October 2nd. There was a good deal of snow above the tree line. Many drifts were knee high. Would recommend spikes. Very windy as well, still worth the view from the top

Beautiful trail. We had planned on camping at Bear Lake but that high above tree line left a great deal of exposure and no wood for fire, or winbreaks. We camped slightly south of the lake, plenty of good spots.

hiking
4 months ago

This was such a lovely hike. Mostly shaded trail, and lots of water crossings. Steady incline so it was work but you couldn't really tell. Lake at the top was pretty with lots of camping. Way back down isn't too bad on your knees because of the gradual hike. Would do this again for sure!

Hiked this mountain yesterday with my dad. Was my 12th and his 28th fourteener. Definitely a harder climb than any other mountain I've done. Started the trail at 5am with headlamps through the forest. Gets pretty difficult when the trail gets above tree line. Lots of steep switchbacks leading to the saddle and then boulder field beyond. Scrambling was super fun leading up to the summit. Overall, awesome views of the Three Apostles, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Columbia, and Mt. Princeton. Took us a little over 3 hours to summit but worth every second.

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike.
Most of the trail is tree covered.
Many water crossing, bridged and natural. I think I counted around 7.
Camping spots near the lake, however I believe some are too close.
Firewood is scarce.
If you have any questions I'm on Facebook messenger.

Great hike. It's definitely difficult in terms of steepness-- 4.5 miles and 4,500 feet. The last bit (maybe 500 meters) is a full scramble to the top. Gorgeous though, and it helps that the trailhead is so easily accessible. Perfectly paved roads all the way to the trailhead.

Camped out Sunday night at a pretty good spot a couple miles past the trailhead. Still managed to get a late start in the morning, but it didn't matter because the weather was perfect. Beautiful, but steep hike through the woods with great views of the changing aspens. However, as most have stated, Yale saves the toughest parts for last. The elevation gain is no joke. Well worth it for the views, and my 6th 14er!

Starts with a beautiful hike through the woods, with a soundtrack of running water from the creek right along the trail. Above tree line, gorgeous views. A long and challenging hike that requires some endurance. We accidentally got off trail and did some precarious scrambling over boulders near the top - don't stray too far from the sandy trail. That said - the sandy trail/loose rock does get slippery and makes it tricky to keep your footing on the descent. We started at 9am which is too late for this 14er, especially at our slow pace - we finished at 8pm, just as it got dark! Lesson: start at sunrise.
Overall - this is a GORGEOUS and CHALLENGING hike.

hiking
5 months ago

A great trail with a very pretty lake at the end. The trail is in good shape and a long but steady climb. Not real difficult but not easy either. Good day hike.

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