Explore the most popular camping 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
27 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.

Mt. Yale was my first 14'er. I am from the midwest, so not use to seeing or hiking this type of terrain (mainly the elevation). It is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. But I was in OK shape from running and decided to give it a go.

The river is the first thing you notice at the start of the trailhead. It's refreshing to hear the water rushing down as part of the snow melt. The trail is wide and easy to follow for the first several miles. There was a little ice and snow to deal with below the treeline. I was able to move at 2-4 mph for the first several miles before I decided that I should slow down and conserve energy. Later on, I would realize that was a wise decision.

Getting above the treeline was exciting and you really begin to see the beauty of this trail and climb. The initial part above the treeline is steeper but it "flattens out" for a ways (meaning the elevation gain is not too difficult). The most difficult part that day above the treeline was trying to navigate the trail with large swaths of snow. I lost the trail a few times due to the snow (it wasn't deep and I was up early enough that it was still in the shade, so no post holing). Once you get to the last 1/2 mile or so going up, it moves into a switchback that I couldn't find due to the snow. So, I could see where the false summit was, so I just decided that I was going to start heading up vertical...I did that for ~900' of vertical gain! The most challenging part here was the loose terrain and the fear in the back of my head that I wouldn't make it home to my wife and 3 kids :-) However, I took it slow to make sure I stayed safe.

Once I got to the false summit, it was another 200' up (vertical) having to hop and jump around large boulders. It was also VERY windy. The wind made this part very challenging. But the view up at the summit, seeing so many snow capped peaks, was breath taking. I ate my lunch up there, took it in for about 30 mins, and then headed back down.

One thing I will say, you feel so small when you are on top of a mountain. Great perspective on life from up there. I feel so important most days, but it was a very different feeling up there. Humbling and good for the soul.

The trek down was most difficult for me...didn't realized how much that would pound on my thighs. I had hoped to run down, but decided against it to stay safe. My legs were spent by the time I got down. I took a 3 hour nap that felt like 5 mins!

I'd highly recommend this route...the beauty of the trail is worth all the effort. The view from the top is breath taking. Have a blast!

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

beautiful late Sept hike

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!

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.

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.

The most difficult I ever done. Started with my wife at 5.50 AM . After a pleasant way in the forest, the trail steep immediately. The real challenge is the last 1.5 mile, with talus scrambling and continues loosing the trail. Same thing going down. The view from the top was excellent. We stay about 30' on the top. The descent took more then the climb, because slippery small rocks. We reached the car at 15.00 PM. Very hard and challenging hike, but it worth. Not recommended for beginners and need some training before to go. Me too recommend to pay attention at the location of the start of the trail, especially in the dark. I think a little more info should be posted at this place.

You have to really work for this one. Seventeenth fourteener of the summer and by far the most difficult one I’ve done. Several sections were very steep and me and my friend got off trail near the beginning which put us back about an hour. Some sections of the trail are not marked that well, especially once you enter the boulder field. On my way down, we lost our trail and ended up going down a lot of loose and sketchy scree for a bit before we found the trail again. Views were spectacular but I will never do this one again.

Due to the road closure we went up Avalanche, down Denny Creek, then slogged it back to Avalanche on the road. The weather could not have been better! Great views and a challenging climb.

I’ve seen a lot of reports touting Denny Creek, but I wasn’t impressed. If I was to do Yale again, I’d stick with Avalanche. It’s slightly longer but I found it far more enjoyable.

Truthfully, this hike isn’t that special and the experience is dulled by all the folks near the lake this time of year. Look for other hiking opportunities from the trailhead: I.e Bear Lake.

Took a few friends here who have never been backpacking at it was great. Easy in and out and they loved it. The lake was great. I wouldnt really recommend trying to hike Mt. Yale from this location. It was all bouldering and sheer cliffs with no trail. That's not to say it wasnt do-able. We made it to the top in about 3.5 hours, and had to scramble down bc of an incoming thunderstorm. Overall, it was a great introductory trip and we were able to get some adventure in trying to conquere Yale.

hiking
4 months ago

We never saw any signs for this on the road until the actual trail head. Really enjoyed it though. Hit the trail about 1pm and saw pretty heavy traffic early on, but thinned out later, everyone was super nice. Had 4 or 5 creek crossing and several river/creek access points prior to lake access which our dog enjoyed. Road in and out made me a little nervous but was totally doable.

hiking
5 months ago

A challenging but truly epic hike & summit. The dirt road up to the trailhead was barely passable at 5-7 mph in a Honda Civic – by comparison, it was much better than the Grays/Torreys road from hell – but you’d be tempting fate in anything less than a high-clearance 4WD. Parking spots were still available at the trailhead (North Cottonwood Creek) at 7 AM on a Monday in August. Only encountered four or five other hikers all day.

This trail has basically four parts: in the forest, in the valley, ascending to the shoulder, and the final ascent to the summit. Each section is shorter but steeper and more challenging than the last; the last two sections have probably 2000-2500 feet of elevation gain across <2 miles. Beware of the two unmarked forks along this trail – at the first, it’s left to Harvard and right to Columbia, and at the second, keep right for the Harvard trail and go left for Bear Lake. Lots of marmots and pikas towards the end, and we saw some mountain goats from the summit. Goats aside, the summit views were absolutely spectacular – with minimal wind and clear skies, we spent 40 minutes up there.

Bottom line: definitely harder than some other 14ers but, with proper planning and expectations, totally worth it.

My tenth 14er and goes down as my favorite because the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a little deceiving because you’re surrounded by a forest and creek for about half the climb and you can’t see the exposed tree line area at all, but it’s nice this trail spoils you a little bit before the hard work starts. The trail was nice until the very top of the summit where there were big boulders. We had a Boston Terrier who struggled on this part a bit, definitely more class 3 terrain at the top. We only saw 4 other people and had the summit to ourselves, a first for me! The descent was nice and easy since it’s not too steep and you also end in a beautiful forest to reward yourself from the tough climb! Highly recommend.

backpacking
5 months ago

I just got back from a backpack trip to Kroenke Lake August 12th. kroenke is no longer the pristine alpine lake it once was. it is over used and trampled with little fire wood. People are camping and building fire rings within a few feet of the lake. What is more distressing is that there is used toilet paper everywhere in the forested areas along the east and south sides of the Lake. When did the hiking/backpacking community decide its ok to just leave their toilet paper behind? Come On People! Its easy to pack out your toilet paper with your other trash, or burn it in your fire pit. If you love the outdoors enough to drive to a trailhead and hike somewhere, you should care enough not to degrade the environment and diminish the experience of others.

1. This is longer than 8.3. More like 9.5. Consider that for time. We started at 5.20 am and we were in the car at 1pm. We hike a pretty average pace, but most people we going significantly slower.

2. DON'T MISS THE TRAIL TURNOFF! If you're walking in the dirt road for more than 10 minutes, you may have missed it. It's easy to do in the dark, even with headlamps, and one guy we met missed it by 40 mins. It's about 5 mins down the trail on the left.

Great hike! The middle third of this hike is really easy meadow walking which allows your legs time to recharge while you enjoy the basin views. The last 1/2 mile or so is all ridge line with a moderate amount of exposure and scrambling in some parts, which is really fun! Seemingly not as popular as Belford/oxford, so I had the summit to myself for a while on a Tuesday morning. Fair amount of dispersed camping possibilities in the area- plenty on the road to the trailhead, and some in the basin/gulch area near the stream!

This was a nice fourteener with some gorgeous views! It has some steep sections in the trees and then mellows out at treeline and doesn’t get steep again until you’re nearing the summit. There is a lot of loose dirt that made it a little slippery near the top coming down so be careful! Not many people hike this one which is nice. Me and my friend had the whole summit to ourselves and out of the 14 fourteeners, I’ve done, this one had some of the best views at the top! Also, this hike is about 11.5 miles round trip, not 8.6.

*closure!* came across road closure signs a few miles before the TH, however they were only blocking one lane so we continued on. Got to the TH at 930 and were told by road construction that the road/hike is not open to the public, only certain resorts. However they did end up letting us in.
The trail was well-maintained and easy to follow, other than the last mile which was a scramble over rocks. Lots of wildflowers and great views the entire way up! Had the mountain to ourselves the whole time. Clocked 9mi total.

Took the Pear Lake trail on the west side of the mountain. It is 2.2 miles west of the Missouri trail head. Your vehicle will need to cross a stream. My Subaru did fine but had to park it after that. The next stream crossing leads to a serious 4x4 road. We hiked the road 3 miles to the Missouri trail head. Beautiful views, no people, great hike!

I haven't climbed Mt. Yale yet. I just wanted to thank Shubham for his review. That's one of the best trip reports I've seen in a long time.

A couple of marathons, numerous obstacle races, and raising 4 teenage girls. But nothing could prepare me for this beast. Only had 2 days to acclimate from sea level, and this mountain kicked our butts. It throws everything at you so it’s not at all boring. But prepare your mind for a test.

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