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Mount Yale Summit Trail is a 10.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and snowshoeing and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 10.2 mi Elevation gain 4,238 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Camping Hiking Nature trips Snowshoeing Forest River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Rocky Scramble Snow
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Getting There

Please note: this is only a report for the first portion of the trail. CR 306 open to trailhead. (Closed about .1 mi beyond it.) Trail up to that point is snow-packed and passable without snowshoes (though expect some postholing). 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. Please note dogs are allowed on this trail but many users have reported that the rocky trail can be difficult for dogs.

Little parking lot with places to park of the side of highway 306, get there early to be safe. Early as in before the sun comes up.

I'm just an Amateur Hiker I just couldn't find this trail here feel free to change things as needed. https://www.facebook.com/michael.anduha.7

From the town of Buena Vista, head west from the stoplight( Main Street or 306),which turns to Cottonwood Pass, go to the Denny Creek Th.

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Reviews (631)
Photos (656)
Recordings (497)
Completed (1118)
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Benjamin Gibson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 26, 2020
Hiking
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Nathan Hively
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Hiking
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James Branan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 22, 2020
HikingRockyScrambleSnow

9/18. Easy to follow trail through the forest. Once you leave tree line it’s very straight forward. Bouldering all the way to summit once you reach the ridge. Class 2 if you follow the cairns but you can make it a bit more challenging if you’d like. With an early start you’ll be in the mountains shadow until you reach the ridge. Overall it’s a great 14er.

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AllTrails User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 21, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Mary Sadanowicz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2020
HikingGreat!

Gorgeous hike that is worth the summit. The start is nice and slow through the trees, then above the tree line the incline really starts. It's overall a very well groomed and pretty wide trail. Getting to the summit requires some scrambling. On the way up the entire hike was in the shade. We left at 6am and finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes with taking our time. It was pretty cold in the shade and at the summit so make sure to bring ample layers, hats and gloves!

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Taylor Pokorny
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2020
Hiking
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Scott K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2020
Hiking

Great trail, but it isn't easy.

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Owen Heupel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
Hiking

The snow is melted enough that you only encounter small shallow patches near the top. The snow also made for great views as it still coats many of the surrounding mountains. The hike wasn't horribly difficult, although the last 500 vertical requires a little route finding. It's easy as hell to access due to the paved road.

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Chris Curran
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
Hiking
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Andrew Cressman
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Hiking
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Carol White
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 17, 2020
HikingGreat!

beautiful trail, long day though.

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Jordan Gilstrap
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2020
Hiking
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Tariq Jaffery
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2020
Hiking

Yale was challenging and fun

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keith Haha
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 15, 2020
Hiking
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Chris Seigler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 14, 2020
HikingMuddyNo shadeOff trailRockyScrambleSnow

I call this trail review, “You Should Have Gone Right.” Trail to tree line is nice.... beware, just before tree line you have to make a choice to go left or right.... go right, this is the actual trail. If you go left, you will class 3 your way up a a boulder field, then class 3 up two huge hills (about 600ft) before you are somewhat reunited with the trail. And then, on your way down, because you don’t remember the original trail because you took that wrong turn 6 hours ago, you will struggle to find it. Up against impending darkness, you will walk a straight line on steep snowy terrain toward tree line knowing you can’t go back the way you came because it’s morbidly steep and going up was easier than going down. Fortunately, before summoning rescue, you’ll see the footprints and follow them to the left. Upon being reunited with the original trail, which isn’t the original trail, but something close, you will haul butt the 2.5 miles back to the parking lot, only to arrive after dark dehydrated and starving.... So, please, when in doubt, go right and save yourself 4 hours and an additional 2 miles of class 3 hiking

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Simon Guérard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 13, 2020
Hiking

Yale is probably one of my favorite in the area (which if you've read my other review, the Sawatch isn't my favorite range in Colorado). Don't get me wrong, nice hikes! But Colorado has much better area. Anyhow, Yale is a nice little hike until you reach climbing the ridge. On the ridge is fun class 2 scrambling - nothing really bad but class 2. Nice to read about the route on 14ers.com.

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Ryan Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 13, 2020
HikingIcyScramble

Summitted on 9/13. Nice long hike through the trees, then things get steep above treeline up to the saddle. After you gain the ridge, there's about 15 minutes of fun scrambling to the summit, although nothing too intense. Go slow and watch where you put your feet, and you'll be fine. You can put yourself in exposed spots on the ridge, but there's always a more mellow line if you look for it. We did this without traction, but it certainly would've been easier with some micro-spikes, especially on the way down -- there are some icy spots that really slow you down if you don't have traction. On 9/13 there were lots of hikers out. Probably saw 50 other people. Since this route is southwest facing, it probably has much less snow than the other 14ers in the Sawatch. Beautiful views of the entire Sawatch from the summit, and you're able to see all the way down to Shavano on a clear day. You can even see the Elk Range. Incredible view of Mount Princeton across the Cottonwood Creek drainage.

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Hannah S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 13, 2020
HikingIcy

This hike was very challenging due to snow accumulation. This was our 11th fourteener this summer, and it still took us just over 7 hours round trip (we started a little before 7am). Most notably it got dicey during the steep switchbacks on the final ascent to the saddle. There was an epic scramble to the summit - pretty scary for even the more experienced hikers we encountered (there were lots of places between the boulders to slip through the snow) but well worth the view. The trail was mostly meltwater and slush on the way down, would recommend microspikes.

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Derek Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020
Hiking

Yeah buddy! Saturday it don't matter day! What a difference a day makes. After dropping out of Princeton mid semester yesterday, we decided to enroll at Yale today. Beautiful day. Sun shining. No wind. Trail is pretty easy to follow. Had spikes on from 12k up and they definitely helped.

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Courtney Jacobson
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Chris downs
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020
HikingSnow

9/11 - summited. Was the most extreme hike i have done to date. Once i got to the saddle the wind was absolutely ripping. The scramble was crazy sketchy. With the snow it took a lot of route finding above treeline. Make sure your gps or map skills are solid. Great hike, very challenging with the added snow.

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Dane Korotko
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 8, 2020
HikingScramble

Started at 4A.M and there wasn't many people yet. The trail is relatively flat and easy up until the treeline. From treeline to the ridge can be tedious going up a lot of switchbacks but overall pretty easy. The scramble near the top was fun. Took 4 hours to summit and 2 to descend.

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