Trail Report - Mount Harvard - Colorado

August 30, 2017

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

Showing Small Pictures    

Mount Harvard! Colorado - 14,420'
South Slopes Route
14.7 Miles Round Trip
4525 feet of elevation gain


Mount Harvard! What an amazing hike. At 14,420', it is Colorado's 3rd tallest mountain. And the South Slopes approach through Horn Fork Basin is just amazing. The round trip distance seems long at 14.7 miles, but I felt that it was, for the most part, really easy going. Compared to say Yale, where the trail hits a steep section and then stays steep, the Harvard trail has many sections (in the woods as well as in Horn Fork Basin) that are much less steep where you can knock out miles much more easily.


First Views Of Mount Harvard


Sign To Harvard


The alpine areas of this hike are really enjoyable with gorgeous trail through woods along creeks, creek crossings etc. While there aren't many pictures here, it is very enjoyable. After about 3 miles you begin to get closer to the basin.


Once you begin to enter Horn Fork Basin, amazing views open up! With an early morning start, the West (left) side of the basin is more scenic. This is because the lighting is on that side of the basin, but also, you're along the lower part of 14er Mount Columbia which towers above the East (right) side of the basin. But you're just too close to Columbia early in the basin to get a good view.


The Horn Fork Basin is just spectacular! The trail winds through beautiful willows along the creek. As you move along, the views continue to change.


Views To West Side Of Horn Fork Basin


First Views Of Mount Harvard


Pano Of Horn Fork Basin Pt 13580


View Of Mount Yale To The South


Rugged Scenery On Way To Harvard


Another Look ToWest Side Of Basin


View Of Mount Yale Across Lower Basin


Columbia Above Basin


Traverse Ridge To Mount Columbia


Moving Further Up Horn Fork Basin


Around 12,600, there is a trail junction. To the left is to Bear Lake and to the right is to continue up the face of Harvard. It's easy to miss this turn and I did! But it was a short scamper and a beautiful one at that over to Bear Lake. Sitting high on a plateau in Horn Fork Basin, this is just an amazing place.


Mistaken Trail To Bear Lake


Bear Lake


Pano At Bear Lake


Back on trail, the climbing gets rocky and steep as you make your way up the face. Fun! Getting closer to the top, the summit block is great! The rock scrambling is supreme and a fantastic confidence builder for those trying to work their way up to tougher peaks. Pick a line, take your time and enjoy!


Beginning The Face Of Mount Harvard


Incredible View Of Basin Lake And Yale


The Ridge To Pt 13580


Higher On The Face Looking West


Way Up The Face


Harvard Summit Block


Harvard Summit Block


Window To Northeast Near Summit


The views from the summit are just fantastic. I hadn't really seen anyone all day but when I got to the top there were a bunch of guys from Texas hanging out up there!! ha ha! They were really cool and snapped some great pics of me.


The Summit Of Mount Harvard


Dudes On Summit Of Harvard


Views From Summit Of Harvard


Views From Summit Of Harvard


Summit View West


Summit View South


Pano From The Summit Of Mount Harvard


The way down is long, but again, just easy going. I think it was perhaps I had done two other 14ers in the week before, so I was getting into better shape. But amazingly, I just wasn't nearly as tired as I thought I would be after so much mileage and elevation gain. Bottom line is don't let that turn you away from this hike. It's SO WORTH a little extra mileage to see this beautiful place and experience this amazing summit.


Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


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