Mount Yale Summit Trail

HARD 82 reviews

Mount Yale Summit Trail is a 8.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September.

DISTANCE
8.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4238 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no dogs

From the fork the trail is fairly easy up until around 13,000 feet. From here follow the switch backs up to the saddle around 13,900. This area is steep and probably the most demanding part of the hike. Once you reach the saddle you have about 300 more feet of elevation gain which requires class 2 scrambling with options of class 3.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this trail in late October. Had wanted to get to CO to hike a 14'er a month or two ago, but work got in the way. Picked this 14er due to the fact that it has a South approach, and most North approach 14ers have much more snow now. From San Antonio so the elevation was a challenge. Read somewhere about pressure breathing, and it did seem to help. Started at 7:30am, summitted at about 12:30. 5 hours up, 3.5 down. Trail is more like 4.9 miles one way though. Tough trail (for me), but the views are spectacular. Once I got to the saddle, the last ~100-150ft are just sheer boulders. I considered stopping at the saddle because the trail to the top is barely visible. Probably made up my own trail the rest of the way, but decided "I came all this way, why quit now". Totally worth it. Barely any wind. It was probably in the high 30's at the top, but was still stripping off layers due to the strenuous work. Definitely recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this trail on October 2nd. There was a good deal of snow above the tree line. Many drifts were knee high. Would recommend spikes. Very windy as well, still worth the view from the top

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this mountain yesterday with my dad. Was my 12th and his 28th fourteener. Definitely a harder climb than any other mountain I've done. Started the trail at 5am with headlamps through the forest. Gets pretty difficult when the trail gets above tree line. Lots of steep switchbacks leading to the saddle and then boulder field beyond. Scrambling was super fun leading up to the summit. Overall, awesome views of the Three Apostles, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Columbia, and Mt. Princeton. Took us a little over 3 hours to summit but worth every second.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike. It's definitely difficult in terms of steepness-- 4.5 miles and 4,500 feet. The last bit (maybe 500 meters) is a full scramble to the top. Gorgeous though, and it helps that the trailhead is so easily accessible. Perfectly paved roads all the way to the trailhead.

3 months ago

Camped out Sunday night at a pretty good spot a couple miles past the trailhead. Still managed to get a late start in the morning, but it didn't matter because the weather was perfect. Beautiful, but steep hike through the woods with great views of the changing aspens. However, as most have stated, Yale saves the toughest parts for last. The elevation gain is no joke. Well worth it for the views, and my 6th 14er!

hiking
3 months ago

My first 14er! Great experience. Loved the green forest area with the running creeks, dirt smells and cooler air. After the tree line I felt very exposed. Quite a steep hike until we reach the rocks. I gotta say I loved scaling the rocks. Takes me back to childhood and growing up around the desert buttes of my he Mohave desert.

I will definitely do it again.

3 months ago

Probably the most rewarding 14er I've done so far. Steep for the majority of the route, but the trail is well marked and gorgeous through the treeline. Above it was quite difficult for me at least, the steepness wearing out my legs. But the views from the top, and really throughout the whole hike, were to die for. I take away a star because there's no way this is 8.7 mi round trip, poor estimate.

3 months ago

A little over seven hours round trip in perfect weather conditions. Left the trailhead at 6:15am. Last 200 yards to the top a real challenge. The trail below timberline was awesome!

hiking
4 months ago

This was a great 14ier! The trail is well marked till you get to the rock pile. Then you scramble through the rocks. Beautiful scenery through the trees

hiking
4 months ago

My first 14er. A good all day hike with steep climbs, especially at the end. Don't let the relatively short distance fool you, this is a strenuous hike with a big climb in altitude. Not technical, but not easy. A lot of "mountain goat" scrambling across rocks to get to the top. Great views, quiet, not too many people (on a Tuesday morning), nice wildflowers. The trail is well marked for the most part, but easy to lose in a few places.

4 months ago

Attempted to summit Yale yesterday. Started in the rain at about 6:30 and ended in the rain at 11:30 The trail is well maintained, and the views were stunning with the fog hanging at tree line among the peaks-a rare view for an early morning hike in Colorado. We made it to about 13,000 ft then turned back because the cold rain had soaked and exhausted us all. The trail was busy, even for a rainy day. Will be back for this one on a bluebird day in the future!

hiking
4 months ago

This 14er was awesome! Our first! The views once you get above the tree line are amazing. Definitely save your energy for the back end where the switchbacks are crazy hard. Once you get to the saddle you are basically there and have made it passed the hardest part. The boulder field at the end is more fun than hard just make sure you follow the markers so it isn't unnecessarily hard. We went up on a Sunday and it was VERY crowded so I recommend not doing that. Other than that it was awesome.

4 months ago

First 14er for me to climb. Beautiful and well marked trail all the way to the ridge. The switchbacks as you get to the top are definitely difficult. To reach the actual summit you have to climb across a lot of boulders. Very difficult to maneuver and not marked.

5 months ago

This is NOT 7.8 miles like indicated here. It's more like 9.4. A big portion of the top is scramble thru big rocks.
The road is paved all the way to the TH.
The trail runs next (and across several times) a river so there is plenty of water for refill (will probably need to treat it)
Crossing the river over logs can be fun .. or not! :)

hiking
5 months ago

In Colorado on vacation from Michigan and wanted to do one big hike so we decided to do Yale. After summiting and completing I can honestly say it was one of the coolest things I've ever done, along with the most challenging physical wise. I'm 18 years old and work out regularly and this hike kicked my ass, so be ready to push your limits especially in the final stretch. I recorded the hike to be about 10 miles long from the Denny creek trail head. Overall amazing experience, itching to do more!

5 months ago

Great long hike!! Holy crap, my wife is still tired from the trail a couple days ago. We started at 3:30 and made good time. Excellent trail, but be sure to use gps to figure out which streams to cross, there are lots of side trails.

hiking
5 months ago

Just did this hike today and it was awesome. We took the Southwest route. 12 miles from Buena Vista on a paved road. Park at Denny Creek Trailhead. Bathroom is at Trailhead if you need it. This is not an easy hike but a good challenge that's for sure. We loved it. We hit the trail at 6am and it took us 3hrs 45 mins to summit. The first couple of hours are on a beautiful trail through the forest. You do cross several streams. Above timberline, it starts to get steep and there's definitely some Spider-Man scrambling to get to the top. No flag or plaque at summit so bring a sign for pics. We spent 20 mins at the summit enjoying the view and lunch, then another 3 hours to get down, which was surprising since I felt we booked it down. So 7 hours total. It was legit!

Also, our Garmin watches said it was nearly 10 miles. Couldn't believe all the people still coming up as we were going down. I would not start later than 7am, 6am or earlier is better.

hiking
5 months ago

Just gorgeous! We're from Arkansas, and this was our first hike in high elevation. We didn't quite make it to the top before the altitude got to us. We did make it well passed the timber line, and we were simply blown away by the views. We highly recommend this trail, even if you can't quite make it to the summit.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

backpacking
6 months 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.

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