Our Work CFI completed major trail construction and restoration on Mt. Harvard from 1999-2002. Due to annual traffic on this peak, the standard route is maintained regularly by CFI and partner organizations.
Recommended Route Horn Fork Basin Route—use of this route will help to reduce impacts to these Fourteeners’ fragile alpine environments. For more detailed information including pictures, maps, and elevation profiles, click here.
Route Information and Additional Resources Harvard and Columbia are generally hiked together. The North Cottonwood Trailhead is approximately ten miles west of Buena Vista, CO on Chafee County 350 and Chafee County 365. Parking is available at the trailhead which is well marked. Follow the North Cottonwood Trail to the junction with Horn Fork Basin/Bear Lake Trail. The route cuts off prior to Bear Lake and ascends Harvard’s south slopes. Columbia is south and southeast of Harvard. From Harvard, descend southeast into the Frenchman Creek drainage, and then gain Columbia’s south ridge approximately a half mile from the summit. Only experienced climbers should attempt following the spine of the connecting ridge, due to its exposure. Technical climbing gear is highly recommended. Do not attempt the ridge in questionable weather. The western scree slopes of Columbia have been severely impacted and eroded by hikers (there is no constructed trail). The optimum, environmentally friendly return would be back over Harvard to minimize environmental impact to Columbia’s west slopes. Since this is a longer route, consider an overnight trip (camp below timberline and properly store your food – it’s called Bear Lake for a reason). Carry plenty of water, as there are no water sources after the Bear Lake trail junction.
The above information does not replace the need to consult additional maps and Colorado Fourteener Guidebooks for more detailed route descriptions. We suggest checking multiple resources before departing on any hike. Keep in mind that not all guidebooks list this recommended route and that each guidebook’s description or route name may vary slightly.
Peak Specific Environmental and Safety Concerns This area is subject to Wilderness Area regulations: Group size limit is 15. No camping or campfires within 100 feet of trail or streams. Dogs must be leashed at all times. No motorized or mechanical equipment. Many rock fields make this trail very difficult for dogs. Be humane. Leave your dogs at home for Harvard and Columbia.