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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.

Friend and I hit the trail just after 8am. Took about 2h30m to get up. Trail is almost completely dry besides a few very small snow patches that are easily crossable. Not much wind up top and it was a beautiful sunny day. Took about 2h to get back down to the bottom.

Beautiful hike. The two river crossings at the top of the hike were very very sketchy. Be prepared to get your feed wet. Cold snow melt but worth it. Just be careful. The top of the trail was still really snow covered. Post holed a few times, but not so bad. Just an extra exhausting step at the end of the hike. The lake was a bit swampy but amazing! Also there were a lot of newly downed trees so lots of climbing off trail to get around.

Definitely a long day and a pretty strenuous hike, but worth the views!

backpacking
7 days ago

Great first 14er for anyone interested in hiking/backpacking. Completed this in two days. The first day was a short hike to the base of the mountain to the designated campgrounds. Second day was the hike to the summit and back to the parking lot. GREAT CLIMB! Fun photo op with LA PLATA street signs at the summit.

We hiked this trail on June 11th but only went as far as the cut off to the lake. Beyond that, it was pretty much snowbound. Didn't feel like plowing thru that much snow. And we talked to people who had post holed up to their waist. I'll wait till the trail is melted out before I go all the way. It starts out fairly steep, then it changes to a nice steady, easy pitch from there to the cut off. Nice views all along up and down.

Hiked June 9, 2017, still quite a bit of snow on the trail causing on and off loss of trail. Hike early to avoid postholing, no need for microspikes.

We hiked this trail on June 6, 2017. It was quite beautiful with lots of scenic views and creeks. We had to get creative to cross the creek because it was deep and moving fast. We had to go upstream a bit to find a path across. It was doable but not super easy to do and stay dry. The last mile or so was very snowy but that was my favorite part of the hike - so beautiful! just make sure you have waterproof boots or shoes. The lake had a lot of snow on it and was a bit of a let-down but I hear it's quite beautiful in the summer.

Amazing views of the mountains and river. Mid-June weekend and ran into few hikers, which is NICE.

Great day for a hike (6/10/17)! We got most of the way up, but then had to turn back at the river crossing. I'm assuming it was a crossing based on a carin and what looked like logs laid strategically across the water. The river was raging! We probably could've crossed, but because we've never hiked this trail before we weren't sure what the trail conditions were beyond that. Plus there's a good amount of snow remaining, which wouldn't be any issue except that it caves in near logs and water. Definitely excited to come back and try this trail later this summer. The road going up to the N. Cottonwood Creek trailhead isn't bad, only a couple deep grooves and scattered rocks.

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked June 3, 2017. Still quite a bit of snow on the trail in spots. The first two miles weren't so bad but there was a fair amount after that so we had to turn around.

There were several people on this trail at 10am and the lot was fairly full when we got there. Try to get an early start.

We didn't make it to the trailhead because the road was bad. It would've been helpful to know itv was more of a four wheel drive road to get there.

hiking
28 days ago

Snow packed past the turn off to the lake, but we still went up, it's a good hike for early summer, warn and sunny.

Great, moderately strenuous hike, with amazing views. Still covered with snow above 11,000 feet, which made it a bit more work getting up inclines, but it's all worth it. Turn for the lake before the sign, as the trail can get a little tricky to find.

backpacking
30 days ago

Awesome hike! Did this yesterday. Still a lot of snow but it's pretty packed. I had my dog with me and had to turn around bc the snow was cutting up her paws and there was a snowstorm blowing in at 10am. I'd definitely hit the trail early to avoid running into that. Also the "winter trail" is a mile or more longer than the regular trail.