Harvard Lakes Trail

MODERATE 50 reviews

Harvard Lakes Trail is a 3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1220 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

Two small beautiful lakes hidden at the base of Mt Columbia From the trailhead go south along the old logging road. When the road takes a sharp turn right (West) you will see a path continuing south. This is the key to this trail. Once you find this trail the rest is easy. After the trail crosses Three Elks Creek it will begin to turn west and lead you up the East side of Mt. Columbia. This trail will meet with the Colorado Trail just North of Harvard Lakes. Turn left onto the Colorado trail for about 100 yards to reach the upper lake, continue on the trail a short ways to reach the lower lake.

hiking
4 hours ago

hiking
1 day ago

The trail started off pretty challenging, really steep. However, the views once you got past that were amazing! We went in the fall and it was beautiful
with the Aspens. The trail was really enjoyable, not too difficult the rest of the way. Once you get to the lakes, plan so spend some time so that you can enjoy the scenery for a bit. I always like trails with a pay off, this was one of those hikes. There are some camp sites off the same road as the trailhead. We really enjoyed some easy camping after our hike.

2 days ago

Very nice hike with aspens turning gold today. Almost park like at the lakes. Hike was on the easy side of moderate and I am 61 years old and chubby but I do live at 9300 feet. You don't need an extreme vehicle for the road but wouldn't take a passenger car. My Toyota Tundra did fine. Definitely worth the time.

hiking
6 days ago

Hiked this this past weekend. The road to the trail head is gnarly for sure. Need a high clearance vehicle. Trail is marked as "3 elk Trail" take that. First 1/4 mile is easy. Then it's just straight up the mountain with no switchbacks and lots of loose rock. It was a hard climb for sure. Follows a waterfall most of the way so my pup had plenty of water. When you get to the Colorado Trail go south (left) and 2 lakes are a few hundred yards away. Both are very pretty as the trees are starting to change. Hard. But worth it.

hiking
8 days ago

Nice, well manicured trail. First 1/4 mile or so is uphill switchbacks and then a pretty casual but beautiful hike to the lakes. Passed a couple that saw a little black bear on the trail that scampered off. Wish I could have seen him! Plenty of water from a creek along the trail if you have dogs. Lakes are beautiful and aspens are beginning to change.

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

Great hike. The lakes are beautiful. Worth the trek. There are 4-5 nice camping spots at the lakes. That's what I'll be doing next time. The marked trail on the app is slightly different than the actual trail. But there's really only one fork on the road. It comes early. Take the left. Labeled Elk Trail. Also there's a bit of 4x4 needed to access the starting point.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

It was a challenging hike. At least moderate. Lots of up, the downhill was steep. We had to cross water a couple of times, and be extra cautious because we saw lots of ''Squatch sign. The trail is not marked as Harvard, but was called "three Elk Trail". When you reach the very top, turn left on the Colorado Trail to find the lakes. Most vehicles are not able to reach the trailhead.

backpacking
1 month ago

First there was no sign identifying the hike. The directions from this site took us right to the trailhead. We stopped .75 miles short of the trailhead not knowing if our Denali would make it. The first sign says "3 elk pass". Take it to be on this hike. Once at the lake region the sign says, I think, "Colorado Pass". It's in the region of the tents and take this left a short distance to the lakes. Left in mid afternoon and didn't expect to complete the trail. My brother and his 12 y/o son and I huffed and puffed and completed the hike. Beautiful and almost all uphill. Some tents at the top with some nice looking areas for camping. Well worth the sweat. The Harvard Lakes at the end of the hike were shallow but trout were visible in both lakes. Looked for Sasquatch but not identified on this hike.

camping
2 months ago

2 months ago

Most cars cannot drive all the way to the trail head which adds about 1.6 miles total (there and back).

Also, when you reach the junction with the Colorado trail, go left and the lakes are about .1 miles from there. Otherwise you'll head in the wrong direction and miss the lakes -- a mistake we learned the hard way.

Overall, a beautiful hike. Much of it follows a nice stream, and the views at the lake are gorgeous.

hiking
3 months ago

Just did this hike on the 11th of June, but didn't go all the way to the lakes. First off, the road off the main road to the trail head is ugly. Don't see anyone getting up that stretch with anything but a high clearance vehicle. Once you start the hike, the trail is nice for about the first 1/2 mile or so. Then it is just straight up the mountain with no switchbacks at all. Steep as can be, and rocky too. Not my favorite trail for sure. It was pretty warm by the time we got over here that day too, so that didn't help. Switchbacks across that ridge line up there would have made this a much nicer hike. Maybe another time when it's cooler, I'll go at this again.

3 months ago

The lakes at the top were well worth the hike up. Only thing is that the road to the trail head is a service road - about 0.8mile up so keep that in mind if you have a tiny car like ours.

hiking
3 months ago

3 months ago

3 months ago