Explore the most popular birding trails in Collegiate Peaks Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Beautiful!

hiking
28 days ago

Incredible experience for my first 14er! Striking views, lots of scenery changes and animals. Those darn pika are hilarious.

highly recommend this hike. Do plan ahead for bathroom breaks, snacks and clothing layers. the 365° view is worth it.

Did this on 10/14 after a big snow storm. Was a chilly and epic adventure. Post-holing up to the hips for the last mile. Good fun.

My first 14er. It felt pretty moderate to me, no section of the trail felt hard. Beautiful views from the summit and good colors on the aspens down low. 9-30-18

The views made it all worth it! A steady climb from the beginning to a rocky last 45 minutes of the hike.

A nice start in the woods. Trail was clearly marked. Beautiful vistas!

beautiful late Sept hike

3 months ago

One of my favorites. The views are amazing. The aspens are beautiful. While the hike just goes up and up, there’s enough variety in the terrain that it doesn’t feel grueling.

Haley P nailed that synopsis below, incredible! Hiked under the full moon and started right outside of Winfield (the lower trailhead; Winfield is super cool, old little mining town you can explore) - tons of dispersed camping along the road to the upper trailhead. Great little dispersed spot right outside of Winfield as well. Definitely a great beginner 14'er! The trail is wonderfully defined the entire route and tough to get off track. #27 & definitely one of my favorites! Views at the summit were all-time. Enjoy!

Incredible! This was my first 14er and I’m hooked - a great first one to try if you haven’t hiked one yet. Some tips for folks to help you gauge time, distance, etc.

Everyone says to “start early” but that doesn’t really explain much. I found that you should be off the peak and below the tree line before noon on account of afternoon lightning storms. We started at 5:30 am (1.5 hours before sunrise) to give us ample time. The trail was super easy to follow, even in the dark. We made it almost half way up (to the plateau) in 1.5 hours. The last half took us another 1.5 hours, so 3 hours total to make it to the peak. We are regular hikers, but were not rushing it. We’re not a fan of blitzing a hike. We spent an hour at the top before descending in about 3 hours. Down by around 1 pm. Tons of people were ascending at that time - not sure if they planned to do the whole thing or not.

We drove in the Friday night before and car camped at the 4x4 trailhead. There were still plenty of places to park and camp, although we got there at 10 pm. You do need a 4x4 car or truck with at least 8-10 inches of clearance. A Toyota suv was hitting bottom in front of us on the way up.

Bring water, snacks, and layers! We saw some people hiking in a long-sleeved shirts and shorts and carrying one water bottle. I can’t advise against that enough. Maybe I’m just paranoid being a WFR, but honestly, I’m the one who will have to help when you get hurt, so please bring some supplies! Better to be prepared at 14,000 ft than to skimp on a little bit of extra weight.

Do it, you’ll love it!! 

hiking
3 months ago

I hit the summit of Columbia first thing this morning. Annihilated me, absolutely annihilated me. Be weary before stepping into this one as the Class II can be a tad misleading. No crazy bouldering but the sheer steepness of the slope after the treeline is insanely intense. There's a solid trail leading up the first saddle but slowly disappears, leaving one lost and bewildered, only option to continue straight up. Number 26 of 2018 and probably the most difficult. I'll take that 17 mile 6600 gain Blanca hike over this one any day. Schooled by Columbia.

We did this trail in early August with great weather. The trailhead is up the road about a half mile on the left and is easy to miss. There's a great variety of views a long the way, streams, valleys and a beautiful forest below the tree line. A lot of bouldering above the tree line, there's plenty of cairns but it's easy to lose the trail. Amazing but very difficult hike. It took us nearly as long to get down as it did to get up because of how steep it is. Poles highly recommended!

The incline to Harvard is relatively easy but long. Maybe two or three class 3 moves right at the summit. The traverse and incline are to Columbia are easy physically (obv if u aren’t fit u are going to be dying) the route is difficult to find. I used my gps on phone. The descent is very steep w scree but gets u back quickly. I recommend going up Harvard. It took me 9 hours but I’m on the faster side. Average will probably be 12/13 hours. Def make sure u have done longer hikes w a lot of elevation gain and be confident w route finding.

This was my third 14er and by far the best 360 degree views. You NEED a 4WD vehicle to get to the upper trailhead; if you have to park at the lower trailhead plan to add about 4 miles round trip to your hike.

I’m in good shape and it took me about 5 active hours round trip to complete.

Beautiful hike today! We parked at the lower trail head which made the hike about 11 miles round trip. The aspen trees are at peak right now, great views and not too crowded for a weekend!

This is a great combo to summit two 14ers in one day. It also makes a nice backpacking trip because there is camping about 3.5 miles in where the trail splits off to Mt. Colombia. If you hike in, camp, do the loop and then pick up your gear on the way out it makes for a nice overnight trip. There is water easily accessible as well.

The boulder field between Colombia and Harvard is a little challenging to navigate. There are not too many cairns and it's easy to get off track. Stay as high as you reasonably can as you go through it and you'll be OK. It is a little slow going through there, so just give yourself some extra time.

hiking
4 months ago

This is a great combo of two 14ers to hit. You can make it a really nice overnight trip by hiking in to one of the campsite areas just before the split off. The second of the two is nicest and is located right next to a stream for easy access to water.

The leg to get from the summit of Belford to Oxford takes 45-60 minutes each way.

This was my first 14er. It took me 5.5 hours of active time, not including the half hour I spent at the top. The peak had a nice little pile of rocks that creates some coverage from the wind. AMAZING 360 degree views. Every angle was breathtaking. Would definitely do again. And the cute little pikas everywhere were probably my favorite. I have no idea how but I saw some insane person mountain biking too.

When reading 14er reviews, I always find it helpful to know a persons skill level. That being said, I’m a regular hiker and this was my second 14er. I can easily say this was the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. Don’t let the “lower” summit height fool you. This thing is steep! You climb roughly 1000 ft per mile for the full 3.5 mile ascend. Once you’re past the tree line (and the wonderful, but short, flat reprieve), this is where the true challenge begins. But what a view! I can see why a lot of the reviews say this is the most beautiful 14er. It was stunning!

Not hard but pretty steep! Parking lot at the top (that requires 4wd) fills up quick. There were 6 or 8 cars parked there Friday night for the next morning.

Important: the trailhead is up the road a short distance, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 mi on the LEFT next to the green gate (right past it). There are small cairns but easy to miss- look for a sign that says “Attention...” This hike seemed much longer than 8-9 mi, I was with a group of 3 and we all had ~13 mi on our devices. There’s a large boulder field and good deal of scree, which makes the last 2-3 mi pretty grueling. There are also a couple of false summits, so watch for the trail continuing on. I’ve done Huron, Belford, Oxford, and Missouri and this one was the hardest for me. I call this one the beast- such a beautiful beast, though!

One of the best 14ers and trails that I’ve done. Beautiful start through the aspens - the leaves are just starting to change color. There’s a lot of hiking above tree line but you’re on the proper side of the ridge to avoid a lot of the wind until near the summit. A couple of false summits may trick you but the second is almost level with the final summit. A tiny bit of scrambling may be required but the views are well worth it.

3:30AM start on Saturday. Chilly with some frozen precipitation. Summit at 7:20. Warmed up a bit on the way down. No flashlight needed above treeline with a 2/3 moon overhead.

Did this hike a few weeks ago. The road leading up to this trailhead is about 6 miles of 4x4 road. We had a 4x4 vehicle but eventually had to park it about a mile from the trailhead because it got way too rough for us as we were in a rental. But can I just say how absolutely incredible it is to get out there. I adored every minute of it. We didn’t see many people after passing the campgrounds, or on the trail. I enjoyed adding an additional mile to my hike as we passed this awesome 120yr old cabin, and got great views of the basin. The trail itself is easy but I’ve been hiking in high elevations for quite some time now. I would write more details but I don’t want to ruin anything. Let’s just say, you get more views and features out of this hike than just these alpine lakes. Totally worth the slightly rough road out there! And ALWAYS be watchful of the weather my friends. ✌

One of the easier class 2s in the Collegiate Peaks, just like most there is a good amount of scree to hike on toward the summit. Made it fun to trail run down after summiting at 8:30Am Aug.31.18, outstanding views of the many surrounding lakes and tallest 14ers in CO. (Massive, Harvard, Elbert) this was my 46th 14er summit as well, thought I should add that as I’ve seen in the past comments it was the hardest one they’ve done..as far as class 2s go I would rank as Moderate. Basically no exposure, and no intense boulder fields just scree piles. Similar climb as compared to Mt. Massive, personally I think Harvard and Columbia are a little more difficult due to the length of the trip. Bring wind gear!

Easy hike from a popular trailhead. Would be interested in backpacking here on a weekday in shoulder season (since it was pretty busy) to camp/fish.

Road wasn’t too bad to the trailhead. A fair amount of options for dispersed camping along the way. The first ~3.5 miles are very gentle and easy to cruise through. Great views from the top, and the last 40 feet of scrambling is a lot of fun!

the absolute hardest hike I have ever done. wanted to do a 14er with an incredible view and 14ers.com reiterated the amazing view from La Plata Peak. the hike itself is intense! once you pass the tree line you are basically hiking very steeply on loose dirt and jumping rock to rock. the wind the day we went was about 50-60 mph too (definitely had some thoughts about turning around but we were so close to the top). we started the hike late, around 945 AM and got back to the car around 4 PM so all in all it was 4 hours up and 2 hours down. this hike is not for the faint of heart, it was a mental and physical battle the entire way but the moment you step foot on the summit is one of the most satisfying and breathtaking moments.

This was a second attempt. The first was due to getting lost under treeline and realizing too much time had been wasted. This is a LONG attempt, and requires perfect weather. Wet rocks alone pose a respectful hazard. The plan was to camp at treeline, among the tree patches and get a reasonable start start; 6 AM. At a modest pace, 7 hours for the full ridge. Water consumption was something that needed to be rationed - bring a filter for your descent. As dark clouds rolled in mid day - forecast 0%, we turned back at halfway. Views were priceless and the route has few other travelers. Absolutely loved it!!! Looked upon La Plata and easily saw a crowd of two dozen. We had the company of two other awesome hikers for the entire day...,

hiking
4 months ago

On my way up Mount Belford I was not convinced I would take the second leg of this hike onto Mt Oxford for my 2nd 14er of the day! From the summit of Mount Belford, though, the beautiful saddle leading to Mt Oxford was too inviting to pass up! Not only that, at age 58 I was fairly certain I would not make it back up Mt Belford anytime soon and wanted to take advantage of being 1 hour more from the Oxford summit.

The views from the saddle were gorgeous-making the steep descent more than worth it. Although the opposite side of the saddle was not as steep, with aching legs from the ascent of Mount Belford-I was weary and could feel the fatigue setting in. It took me a little more than one hour to get to the Summit but it was a great feeling to arrive. After quick picture of the geological plate and a bite to eat, I headed back. Gratefully, the accent up the saddle toward the Belford summit was short but was the most brutal part of my all-day hike-with a narrow path, steep incline, and at places, sketchy footholds. With patience and great care-no problem, though.

As I returned via the Missouri Gulch trail, I was grateful not to descend the way I came up on the Mt Belford front. Altogether, 11.2 miles and nearly 10 hours to accent and return to the trailhead. The Missouri Gulch trail brought many varied views not seen on the way up Guilford. It was a delightful return with mountain foliage, a spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The winding Clear Creek in the valley was beautiful as was the view of Mount Guilford and Oxford behind! A great day hiking in the Rocky Mountains!

Awesome hike! Get there early to beat the rush. very busy on a Saturday as we are descending. This is a great 14’er for beginners because it’s not technical at all, but it gets pretty steep over the second half of the hike from about mile 1.8 and on. Definitely allow yourself 3-4 hours if you’re a slower hiker. Also, the google maps link in AllTrails stops in the middle of the forest and says you’ve “arrived.” You haven’t. Keep driving until the 4WD road dead-ends at the trailhead in a big valley out of the trees. 4WD or AWD are necessary because of the rocks and ruts and make sure the vehicle clearance is high. It’s not that sketchy of a road otherwise though. Great hike!! We made it up in 1 hour and 51 minutes. DO IT!

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