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The final stretch of trail from Horn Fork Basin to Mt. Harvard.

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Point to Point

14,346' 4,373 m


12,382' 3,774 m


1,963' 598 m


0' 0 m



Avg Grade (15°)


Max Grade (34°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Cottonwood Creek Trailhead is generally closed for winter several miles below the start of the Horn Fork Basin Trail.

Though the land manager requests all dogs be leashed, you'll likely see n number of dogs with a ratio of leashed dogs to unleashed 0:n.


From the turnoff at the end of Horn Fork Basin, continue up an excellent trail at 12,600 ft. It's only about 1.5 miles to the summit from here. Hike along moderate grades through some small boulder fields before coming to a rock band around 13,100 ft.

From here, things get steep. Switchback on a clear trail composed almost entirely of talus before being spat back out onto the dirt trail. Continue switchbacks until hitting a summit ridge around 14,100 ft. Angle to the right, hiking up some switchbacks, again, until you reach the summit block at around 14,380 ft. From here, it's a fun class 2+ scramble to the summit of the third tallest 14er in all of Colorado, Mt. Harvard, 14,424 ft.

Turn around and follow your ascent trail back down, or continue along the traverse to complete the featured route: Harvard and Columbia in reverse.

Flora & Fauna

From trees and wildflowers to marmots and pika, this trail's got it all. For some reason, the mountain goats up high are particularly sodium-deprived, to the point where they will follow you around just waiting for you to relieve yourself. The USFS has actually gone so far as to suggest hikers urinate on solid rock instead of dirt trail, thus discouraging these odd creatures from literally eating dirt.


Shared By:

Tyler Prince with improvements by Ashley Peterson

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 10 votes


  4.4 from 10 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Colorado


6 Views Last Month
3,412 Since Mar 6, 2015
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Excellent views of Princeton, Yale, and Bear Lake from Harvard's summit. Much of the trail is visible in the lower left
Oct 2, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
When the trail starts getting a little more rugged.
Jul 31, 2021 near Buena V…, CO
When some light scrambling starts about 1.5 miles from Harvard.
Jul 31, 2021 near Buena V…, CO
Approaching the final ascent to Harvard. Up ahead you see the class 2 climb.
Jul 31, 2021 near Buena V…, CO
A couple hundred feet below the summit of Mt. Harvard.
Mar 12, 2015 near Buena V…, CO
Some trail getting closer to Harvard.
Jul 31, 2021 near Buena V…, CO



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Aug 23, 2023
Atsuko Ohtake
Aug 9, 2023
William Horst
Summitted with Abe. We backpacked and camped in the Horn Fork Basin (3.5 miles into the hike) and then summitted early morning. Beautiful trail. 13.7mi — 10h 00m
Jun 22, 2023
Brian Baker
Very wet trail conditions! Trail was essentially stream and snow from 10,600' to the very top, with significant melt occurring after 10:00am. 13.8mi — 9h 25m
Jul 30, 2021
Judson Watkins
A tricky trail toward the end. Class 2 with lots of scrambling. Highly recommend you bring trekking poles and 2.5 liters of water per person. 13.5mi — 8h 30m
Sep 26, 2020
Josh B
Jul 3, 2020
Jarred Mosher
13mi — 10h 00m
May 20, 2020
John Saldaña
Jun 7, 2019
Taylor Harris

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