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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