Mount Yale Summit Trail

HARD 114 reviews

Mount Yale Summit Trail is a 8.7 mile moderately 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, and snowshoeing and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,238 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

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.

hiking
1 day ago

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.

11 days ago

*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.

hiking
13 days ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

The most amazing time I had, I have never climbed any mountain in my life. This was the first one. Despite of all the warning which fellow AllTrailers were giving. I became ignorant and took my body very lightheartedly. It was hell experience. Let me explain my amateur climb to the summit.

I wanted to challenge myself to complete the trail at any cost (even if I get hurt). So all I packed was my drone, GoPro, Alltrails map, 1 gatorade, 1 Candy bar. I was wearing a pair of jeans, nike running shoes, my country shirt and a baseball cap. Thats all I had and was pretty lightweight.

I begin my climb at 6am sharp, slowly climbed the high elevation, lost my way twice and tried to figure it out without using any GPS or maps (Just to see how nomadic people did back when Jesus was alive) - Tell you what that the worst IDEA possible. Please carry your GPS or AllTrails off-line map. My offline map won't work because I couldn't afford a Pro Subscription. Regardless, getting lost is the fun part but not when you are surrounded by nature and rattlesnakes.

One thing for sure is that any time you see a human when you are lost, you have such high appreciation of mankind that you will become their best friend even they were a serial killer. Regardless, I never saw a human. But I was few clicks away from tree line when I saw knee deep snow and the moment when snow enters your shoes and makes your warm feet cold like the arctic. You just wanna yell at the top of your lungs. Nobody cared for my yelling because I was alone.

I somehow reached the tree line and there it was the summit. My left lung almost gave up but the summit was close by so I beat my chest like a caveman I am and started climbing a 75 degree incline on the OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. Half way through the climb I realized, "Hmmm how did people climb this mountain when they have such difficulty??" I don't even have climbing gear. But I imagined that people climbed this side of the mountain so I did too. But in reality no one did climb because there were no footsteps and the snow was mint perfect.

Moving on I reach to the top from the WRONG SIDE and started taking the drone shot. WARNING: If you are a drone user, your drone will be unstable during the flight due to cold weather and altitude. After my work, a lot of black clouds started hovering over me. This reminded me of an other thought which an old man told before I went to Mt.Yale. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE ON THE SUMMIT WHEN THE BLACK CLOUDS HOVER OVER YOU. I don't know why but I believe the old man.

I reached the tree line after brushing my elbow because now I am defending a 70 degree inclination on just 2 legs and no support. I made it alive and it started snowing like it was hogwards and I am Harry Potter(Just Indian style)

This time I was on the right trail coming down because I know what the wrong trail looks like. I found a camper and his husky called Boomer and I left my life on that 4 legged animal, hoping that he will get me to my car. The dog did his job after making me wait for 20 mins while he searched for pooping spot.

I reached my car and thanked god for this experience, then I started planning for more epic trips of Mt. Princeton and Mt Rainer ... I love mountain climbing now!!

hiking
1 month ago

My wife and I hiked this on 6/29/18. Amazing experience!

First, the bad news: After planning this hike for 2 months, we arrived in CO to discover the road to Denny Creek trailhead was to be closed for construction. We called several state agencies, however, and were assured the road would still be open on 6/29. Great! But as we drove up the road at 5:30am, it was most definitely closed, just past the Avalanche Gulch trailhead. So we had no choice but to begin our hike from there...which turned our 10-mile hike into a 16-mile hike and added 800+ feet of elevation gain.

Now, the good news: We had the whole freakin’ mountain to ourselves! Not another human in sight the entire day. Began the ascent from Denny Creek around 6:35. Passed treeline about 9:00. Reached summit about 11:30. Breathtaking views the whole way up, especially just before treeline and on up through the tundra. Wildflowers everywhere and we saw lots of curious marmots, including one that tried to take my pack at the saddle. Last half mile is the hardest. OMG there’s no oxygen up there! Scrambling the last 100 yards to the summit is tricky but doable. Stay in the middle and go slow. Weirdly it wasn’t windy at all up there but was quite windy 100 feet lower. Began our descent at 12:00. It was harder than I expected, steep and super windy the first half. Made it back to Denny Creek trailhead about 2:45 and then began our 3-mile hike back to the car. We asked some DOT and construction workers for a lift but no luck.

So if you want your own private mountain for a day and don’t mind adding 6 miles to your hike, do Mt. Yale while the construction is going on.

1 month ago

LOST RING
Great hike, hard did it June 7th lost a gold ring right after the switch backs where it flattens out before you hike to the top. Very important.

Beautiful hike...get out there early, storms roll in quickly in the afternoons.

hiking
2 months ago

Great weekday hike. Not crowded. Great conditions. No real snow except a few patches towards top. Amazing amazing amazing views! Wildflowers are out also. Dry, dusty, sandy hike with loose rock/gravel and numerous sections with both and small boulders to navigate. Mostly exposed. Couple of small stream crossings with narrow log bridges. Road to Denny trailhead is open, construction hasn’t started yet. Got hiking by 6 AM. Took us about 7 hours of actual hiking (4.5 to summit); 8.5 hours total with all stops included. Last mile or so is challenging. Rock scramble to summit and hard to see which path is best, so be careful. Stay towards the middle as you reach summit; sides of summit were more dicey with loose rock/gravel and fewer footholds. Enjoy!

2 months ago

No snow, nice steady incline to the top

hiking
2 months ago

One of my favorites yet. The views all the way up are spectacular. You can see all the work that has went into maintaining this trail over the years.Trail is 9.2miles round trip. Dogs on leash are allowed but they should be very good scramblers to make this summit. If your dog gets scared from exposure, large rock gaps, or water crossings, leave them at home.

hiking
2 months ago

Summited this one for the second time over the weekend. Awesome 14'er to start the summer season. There were still a few sections of snowpack, but nothing that would require spikes. Yale has one of the best views of a majority of the 14'ers, so hang in there for the climb up the tundra.

hiking
2 months ago

The most amazing time I had, I have never climbed any mountain in my life. This was the first one. Despite of all the warning which fellow AllTrailers were giving. I became ignorant and took my body very lightheartedly. It was hell experience. Let me explain my amateur climb to the summit.

I wanted to challenge myself to complete the trail at any cost (even if I get hurt). So all I packed was my drone, GoPro, Alltrails map, 1 gatorade, 1 Candy bar. I was wearing a pair of jeans, nike running shoes, my country shirt and a baseball cap. Thats all I had and was pretty lightweight.

I begin my climb at 6am sharp, slowly climbed the high elevation, lost my way twice and tried to figure it out without using any GPS or maps (Just to see how nomadic people did back when Jesus was alive) - Tell you what that the worst IDEA possible. Please carry your GPS or AllTrails off-line map. My offline map won't work because I couldn't afford a Pro Subscription. Regardless, getting lost is the fun part but not when you are surrounded by nature and rattlesnakes.

One thing for sure is that any time you see a human when you are lost, you have such high appreciation of mankind that you will become their best friend even they were a serial killer. Regardless, I never saw a human. But I was few clicks away from tree line when I saw knee deep snow and the moment when snow enters your shoes and makes your warm feet cold like the arctic. You just wanna yell at the top of your lungs. Nobody cared for my yelling because I was alone.

I somehow reached the tree line and there it was the summit. My left lung almost gave up but the summit was close by so I beat my chest like a caveman I am and started climbing a 75 degree incline on the OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. Half way through the climb I realized, "Hmmm how did people climb this mountain when they have such difficulty??" I don't even have climbing gear. But I imagined that people climbed this side of the mountain so I did too. But in reality no one did climb because there were no footsteps and the snow was mint perfect.

Moving on I reach to the top from the WRONG SIDE and started taking the drone shot. WARNING: If you are a drone user, your drone will be unstable during the flight due to cold weather and altitude. After my work, a lot of black clouds started hovering over me. This reminded me of an other thought which an old man told before I went to Mt.Yale. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE ON THE SUMMIT WHEN THE BLACK CLOUDS HOVER OVER YOU. I don't know why but I believe the old man.

I reached the tree line after brushing my elbow because now I am defending a 70 degree inclination on just 2 legs and no support. I made it alive and it started snowing like it was hogwards and I am Harry Potter(Just Indian style)

This time I was on the right trail coming down because I know what the wrong trail looks like. I found a camper and his husky called Boomer and I left my life on that 4 legged animal, hoping that he will get me to my car. The dog did his job after making me wait for 20 mins while he searched for pooping spot.

I reached my car and thanked god for this experience, then I started planning for more epic trips of Mt. Princeton and Mt Rainer ... I love mountain climbing now!!

hiking
3 months ago

Summited this pretty late in the season. The trail was easy to follow below treeline. Traces of snow but mostly dry and clearly marked. Most everything above treeline was snow-covered to the point that I lost the trail and ended up scrambling to the summit. I had no sense of where the trail was for the last quarter mile. Views from the top were incredible, though! Definitely a difficult hike but well worth it.

3 months ago

Not an easy trail in spring weather, snow was soft and not stable. Still doable for determined people. Had to change between spike to snowshoes to often. Made it to the top an it was all worth it. Views are stunning!

hiking
4 months ago

I reached the summit at 12:00 pm on 3/21/2018 with only micro spikes, snowshoes were not needed. The trail was lost and I followed snowshoe tracks that went directly straight up through the tree line. I was a bit tough to get up but once above tree line it was easy to find the trail. Just be weary, there are a ton of tracks that go to dead ends. Once above the tree line head towards the saddle and you are bound to find the trail. This was my 3rd 14er of 2018 and I found it to be pretty safe, as for avey danger.

hiking
6 months ago

As others have stated, the most challenging part of the trail is above the tree line. Challenging but well worth the views at the top!

hiking
9 months 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
10 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
11 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
11 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.

11 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
11 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.

11 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.

11 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
Sunday, August 06, 2017

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
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

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
Thursday, July 27, 2017

7/27/17 Hiked this today! Was my first 14er and it was awesome. It was way harder then expected. It took my brother and I about 8 hours. We took a lot of breaks. The trail is decently marked the whole way up. Make sure to try to use the bathroom before reaching the alpine zone/clearing. There aren't many good spots after that. Also, once you reach that, be prepared for the hardest part. Lots of stepping/climbing up rocks in the switchbacks which takes awhile till you reach the summit. Well worth the hike!

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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.

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