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.
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.
So gorgeous! Mostly uphill on the way to the lakes- definitely worth it. I hiked it yesterday and only saw two other people the entire time. Quiet and so beautiful.
Beautiful hike. Initial trail winds through pine forest followed by steep rocky trail then meandering path by Elk Creek. Lakes are small but pretty. Creek is pure alpine beauty.
Great hike, long and steep near the top with a fair amount of bouldering. Man who started at the trailhead with a devoted GPS device logged 7.7 miles to the top with over 5000 ft of elevation change. Took me 6.5 hours on the head (4 out and 2.5 back bout county 20 minutes up top). I passed nearly everyone who beat me to the top on the way back down, apparently I was flying to do it in this time. A sponsored Clif Bar runner named Dakota passed me running to the top, but he's clearly an elite athlete. Some of the bushes were 6+ feet tall overwhelming the trail, which was a little freaky as it limits your view and speed.
Saw a lot of marmots at the top and one BIG goat. Great hike, not super easy at the top. Lots of places to roll you ankles on the way down so be careful
last 0.8 mile 4x4 access to trail head.
Incredible hike. The views were some of the best that I have seen on a fourteener. The hike is a little longer than the easier fourteeners, and the elevation gain is tough, but it is totally worth it! We even had some mountain goats join us at the top. The trail wasn't too busy, but there were definitely other hikers along the way. If you've got a few fourteeners already under your belt, I highly recommend this one. If you can, leave early so you can hit Mt Columbia on your way back. Storms role in early and the trail is long, so you'll want to start extra early to get both done
I went with a group of 5. We are 20-22 years old and triathletes. I'd say that we are pretty athletic people but this hike was a real challenge for us. We did the hike in January so there was a lot of snow.... We were hiking in knee deep snow for the majority of the time. The 3 miles there took us almost 4 hours and the way back took us just over 2. Pack lots of food and water! I would also recommend extreme caution in the winter time. There were some sharp incline icy patches. Someone in our group slid about 15 feet down the side of the mountain before she was able to grab a tree branch and pull herself up.
Great trail and beautiful views. There were a fair amount of people on the trail but didnt feel crowded at all. Hiked into the treeline the first night and set up camp around a fire ring off the trail. Started early in the morning up to Mt Harvard peak. First stop on the way up was Bear lake which was awesome. Quick note you need to backtrack to the trail. DO NOT head up the to the first peak and traverse over to Harvard. Killed my leags and didnt get to complete the traverse to Mt Colombia
Nice hike overall. Steep incline with loose gravel about half way into the hike. Decent view, somewhat obstructed, at the top of the ridge after this steep ascent. Then the trail runs along creek before intersecting the Colorado trail, with the lakes just down from there. Shallow lakes, no view. Not as impressive as other high mountain lakes in the area.
We are in our early fifties and generally desert dwellers. I would rate this hike moderate if you are use to the elevation and if you don't encounter snow drifts on the trail as we did. That being said, beautiful hike!