Explore the most popular hiking trails near Buena Vista with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is a grueling and rewarding hike/climb to Yale. It is mostly Class 1 and 2 but the lower-mid section of the ridge is Class 3 in parts with steep areas of scree/boulders. Took 3 hours to summit, 2 to descend. Amazing views of Sawatch and surrounding ranges

Fist full of dollars is all down hill from the parking lot. Very easy hike going down. Django is of course all up hill, but still easy! I’d say this is more of a moderate trail for biking, but hiking it’s definitely easy.

This was my third 14er and by far the best 360 degree views. You NEED a 4WD vehicle to get to the upper trailhead; if you have to park at the lower trailhead plan to add about 4 miles round trip to your hike.

I’m in good shape and it took me about 5 active hours round trip to complete.

Beautiful hike today! We parked at the lower trail head which made the hike about 11 miles round trip. The aspen trees are at peak right now, great views and not too crowded for a weekend!

Was absolutely beautiful today as the aspen are perfect

This was my first 14er. It took me 5.5 hours of active time, not including the half hour I spent at the top. The peak had a nice little pile of rocks that creates some coverage from the wind. AMAZING 360 degree views. Every angle was breathtaking. Would definitely do again. And the cute little pikas everywhere were probably my favorite. I have no idea how but I saw some insane person mountain biking too.

This was not the trail we entended on taking, but the view of the Apostles is awesome. Trail is not maintained when you get to the basin. So good luck, we spent about half our time looking for Cairns and the trail. Note that you probably need FWD to get to the main trailhead. Ended up having to pack in our gear the extra 1.5mile.

When reading 14er reviews, I always find it helpful to know a persons skill level. That being said, I’m a regular hiker and this was my second 14er. I can easily say this was the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. Don’t let the “lower” summit height fool you. This thing is steep! You climb roughly 1000 ft per mile for the full 3.5 mile ascend. Once you’re past the tree line (and the wonderful, but short, flat reprieve), this is where the true challenge begins. But what a view! I can see why a lot of the reviews say this is the most beautiful 14er. It was stunning!

Great paved open trail head. Beautiful hike in woods. 3 miles to Yale trail. Next 2.5 miles on ridge line to summit is class 2 plus, class 3 at times. No defined routes on ridge climb, carins small and few. Beware of false summits, they are soul crushers. Summit offers amazing view.

Cottonwood Pass road is closed all year until Memorial Day , 2019. It’s closed at the Avalanche trailhead. The Forest Service is so underfunded that they have to rely on volunteers, no doubt that’s where the misinformation in the previous review came from.

Not hard but pretty steep! Parking lot at the top (that requires 4wd) fills up quick. There were 6 or 8 cars parked there Friday night for the next morning.

nice trail but on the high side of moderate. Not for old out of shape guys like me. I had to turn around about half way because it was too steep for me and my pug.
make sure your app is active as the trail could be better marked.

Easy hike from a popular trailhead. Would be interested in backpacking here on a weekday in shoulder season (since it was pretty busy) to camp/fish.

Road wasn’t too bad to the trailhead. A fair amount of options for dispersed camping along the way. The first ~3.5 miles are very gentle and easy to cruise through. Great views from the top, and the last 40 feet of scrambling is a lot of fun!

As the description says, this is not an easy trail for beginners. I started with the idea that I would do this hike, camp out up top and do Mt Yale from the east ridge. this was the plan because east ridge is very difficult and the route just to get there is difficult. I continued on to the Yale summit without making camp. Needless to say, I wish I hadn't done that. it was VERY windy at the summit and so I decided I would cache my pack and I brought 2 qts of water up with me. it was nowhere near enough. the east ridge is full of Class 3's and the wind definitely plays a part in how fast you get up there, which won't be fast. Bring plenty of water (I made a judgement call, it was a mistake) and camp near the Colorado trail intersection if possible. Also, I feel as though I've gone on talking about an additional trail option and not the main trail, my apologies. Also, not many wildflowers but plenty of marmots and turkey.

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Starting at South Winfield Trailhead, following the Lake Ann Trail to the The Three Apostles Trail heading to the Apostle Basin. Trail is well maintained until you begin your main elevation gain out of the trees (~10,250’). Beyond this point the trail is rarely marked and unmaintained.

Awesome hike! Get there early to beat the rush. very busy on a Saturday as we are descending. This is a great 14’er for beginners because it’s not technical at all, but it gets pretty steep over the second half of the hike from about mile 1.8 and on. Definitely allow yourself 3-4 hours if you’re a slower hiker. Also, the google maps link in AllTrails stops in the middle of the forest and says you’ve “arrived.” You haven’t. Keep driving until the 4WD road dead-ends at the trailhead in a big valley out of the trees. 4WD or AWD are necessary because of the rocks and ruts and make sure the vehicle clearance is high. It’s not that sketchy of a road otherwise though. Great hike!! We made it up in 1 hour and 51 minutes. DO IT!

Very nice trail, with excellent views, especially of the three Apostles.Pretty easy for most of the part, but more challenging on the ridge. Very well maintained trail. Recommended 4wd for reach the top trailhead. We start from the lower trailhead because our rented car has a very worn tires.Nice wilderness area to see walking.

pass is closed for roadwork/paving

29 days ago

Be advised the trailhead has been moved 1.1 miles south from the location marked on All Trails. The old roadbed up to the old trail head has a pretty good grade, but is smooth and covered in small gravel. Really easy to hike! All my distances are from the new parking lot. I didn't hike all the way up to the loop, but I did upload a track from the new trail head for reference.

Rating this trail as moderate is generous. It is largely smooth and flat, with a couple of rocky patches. Easy grade with exception of miles 0.0 to 1.1, and 3 - 3.75. The latter is fairly steep, BUT switchbacks have been added at the top making the last 0.25 mile or so a gentle grade. The switchbacks are also not shown on the All Trails route, but are on my track. Once on top you again face easy grades and smooth trail.

You will follow a creek between mile 1.1 and 2.75 providing easy access to water, and a surprisingly lush gulch. A surprise given how dry the overall area is! The trail meanders through a few aspen groves, overlooks a beaver pond, and winds it's way through open pine forest. Good camping spots up around 2.5 miles. You will depart water at about 2.75 miles when you start your way up to the plateau.

Once you reach the plateau you are greeted by low bushes and grassland, with pine forest along the shallow valley walls. You will encounter reliable water at about mile 4 and again follow a stream and beaver ponds to the north. The upper plateau is relatively flat and loaded with good camping spots.

Really enjoyed this trail. It was a nice easy overnighter and hooks up with a loop on the north end. You could easily make a 2-3 day there and back trip with the loop added in.

Well we woke up late but had originally planned a 14er so we had that mentality going into this hike that we chose super last minute without much research, just to put this review in perspective. We got to the monte Escondido road around 9:30 and got hiking up the road around 9:45 due to us driving a corolla we knew we wouldn’t make it up the road. Definitely requires an suv. Hiking up and back down the road was the worst part for us. Once we got to the clearly marked trailhead there’s a while where it is relatively flat and shady which is a nice break from the uphill and sunny road. Soon after the creek crossing you start heading straight up the mountain that is steep and almost completely rocky. We took plenty of water breaks and had the same amount of water we were planning for the 14er. Hiking poles also helped a ton. At the Colorado wilderness trail you go left and within a short distance you see a small lake on the right and then a little further down the trail you get to the large lake. We walked around to the far side for our lunch break which offered beautiful Mountain Views and shade. We set up our hammock - bring one! We made it here around 1, remember we were taking plenty of breaks and I was fighting a chest cold so if you hauled straight up it wouldn’t take you nearly this long. Headed back down around 2 and made it back to the car at 3:15. Very steep and slippery heading down on the rocks again hiking poles were super helpful. Overall, we enjoyed the trail. A lot of comments about it being dead and boring but we saw plenty of aspens, birds, even some wildflowers. Recommend and would do again!

Due to the road closure we went up Avalanche, down Denny Creek, then slogged it back to Avalanche on the road. The weather could not have been better! Great views and a challenging climb.

I’ve seen a lot of reports touting Denny Creek, but I wasn’t impressed. If I was to do Yale again, I’d stick with Avalanche. It’s slightly longer but I found it far more enjoyable.

Truthfully, this hike isn’t that special and the experience is dulled by all the folks near the lake this time of year. Look for other hiking opportunities from the trailhead: I.e Bear Lake.

Stunning hike!! This first couple of miles are switchbacks up the side of the mountain. The views are beautiful the whole way. You’ll go through an alpine meadow right before the final climb to the summit. We had to turn back about 3/4 of a mile from the top due to a big storm coming in, but it was still a worthwhile hike! As other reviews have mentioned, 4wd is a must to get to the trailhead.

Decent trail IF you have high clearance off road vehicle. The hike from the lower trailhead is a washed out jeep trail with gigantic, feet killing rocks. Consider adamantium shanks for you boots. I went to the high trail in my Jeep. The rest of the trail has tons of dead ends and washouts. We spent 1/2 the hike bushwacking or bouldering. The approach to Harvard is less than great. Tons of false ridges, and we found too late you have to cross over for a north face summit. We were cliffed out around 14,220. Only plus side is we didn't see a single person on the trail over 2 days. There's probably a reason for that!

Took a few friends here who have never been backpacking at it was great. Easy in and out and they loved it. The lake was great. I wouldnt really recommend trying to hike Mt. Yale from this location. It was all bouldering and sheer cliffs with no trail. That's not to say it wasnt do-able. We made it to the top in about 3.5 hours, and had to scramble down bc of an incoming thunderstorm. Overall, it was a great introductory trip and we were able to get some adventure in trying to conquere Yale.

1 month ago

We never saw any signs for this on the road until the actual trail head. Really enjoyed it though. Hit the trail about 1pm and saw pretty heavy traffic early on, but thinned out later, everyone was super nice. Had 4 or 5 creek crossing and several river/creek access points prior to lake access which our dog enjoyed. Road in and out made me a little nervous but was totally doable.

1 month ago

A challenging but truly epic hike & summit. The dirt road up to the trailhead was barely passable at 5-7 mph in a Honda Civic – by comparison, it was much better than the Grays/Torreys road from hell – but you’d be tempting fate in anything less than a high-clearance 4WD. Parking spots were still available at the trailhead (North Cottonwood Creek) at 7 AM on a Monday in August. Only encountered four or five other hikers all day.

This trail has basically four parts: in the forest, in the valley, ascending to the shoulder, and the final ascent to the summit. Each section is shorter but steeper and more challenging than the last; the last two sections have probably 2000-2500 feet of elevation gain across <2 miles. Beware of the two unmarked forks along this trail – at the first, it’s left to Harvard and right to Columbia, and at the second, keep right for the Harvard trail and go left for Bear Lake. Lots of marmots and pikas towards the end, and we saw some mountain goats from the summit. Goats aside, the summit views were absolutely spectacular – with minimal wind and clear skies, we spent 40 minutes up there.

Bottom line: definitely harder than some other 14ers but, with proper planning and expectations, totally worth it.

Gorgeous views and well maintained trail. Super popular too and pretty easy for a fourteener. You need a high clearance 4wd vehicle to get to the trailhead unless you want to add about 6 miles to the hike.

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