Colorado 14ers: Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia

It's a scholarly debate on which summit--Mount Columbia or Mount Harvard--is the best. So reserve a long weekend to climb both in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, and decide for yourself.
Publish date:
Updated on

-Mapped by Joe Gibbs

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 19.5


Un-named peak to the northwest of Bear Lake

Location: 38.9117546, -106.3158875

©Joe Gibbs

Mount Harvard summit

Location: 38.9244232, -106.3207474

©Joe Gibbs

Looking north from Harvard's summit

Location: 38.92453, -106.3207474

©Joe Gibbs

North Cottonwood Trailhead

Location: 38.8708954, -106.2663727

©Joe Gibbs

Dramatic views of Mount Yale

Location: 38.8774414, -106.3054352

©Joe Gibbs

Looking north into Big Horn Basin

Location: 38.893383, -106.3111343

©Joe Gibbs

Hikers on the trail

Location: 38.9070053, -106.3131409

©Joe Gibbs

Distant views of Mount Harvard

Location: 38.9073219, -106.3133545

©Joe Gibbs

The Bear Lake-Mount Harvard trail junction

Location: 38.908905, -106.3143311

©Joe Gibbs

First views of Bear Lake

Location: 38.9106979, -106.3152542

©Joe Gibbs


Location: 38.8710022, -106.2664795

From the North Cottonwood trailhead, head W through thick forest. In 150 yds., cross North Cottonwood Creek on bridge


Location: 38.8708382, -106.2706528

Trail dips to the SW as first views of Mt. Columbia come into view to the N


Location: 38.8708725, -106.2803726

Continue W through shady forest along rushing creek; keep an eye out for occasional trout surfacing


Location: 38.8703308, -106.2918854

Creek crossing over wooden footbridge; trail curves to the NW


Location: 38.8708305, -106.2930756

Bear R @ Y, heading NW toward Bear Lake and Horn Fork Basin


Location: 38.8750343, -106.2981796

Pass through a meadow with prime views of Mt. Yale to the S


Location: 38.8774643, -106.3054123

Cross a small stream, then continue NW


Location: 38.8827019, -106.3099365

Trail curves to the N toward Horn Fork Basin


Location: 38.8889236, -106.3124161

Continue N for a moderate uphill climb with occasional switchbacks


Location: 38.8910637, -106.3128052

To climb Mt. Harvard, continue straight on trail. To summit Mt. Columbia, turn R and leave trail; head E to begin ascent of Columbia's W slopes


Location: 38.8934898, -106.3112411

Look ahead for views into grassy Horn Fork Basin, as you leave forest behind


Location: 38.9008827, -106.312645

Hike through basin on trail flanked with bushes; up-close views of Mt. Columbia and Mt.Yale


Location: 38.9071083, -106.3131409

Continue heading N; steep ascent begins here


Location: 38.9089203, -106.3144455

Go R @ Bear Lake jct. (marked with a small wooden sign); continue N on rock-strewn trail; sounds of chirping marmots provide background music


Location: 38.9106369, -106.3152237

Keep an eye out behind you for first views of Bear Lake to the SW


Location: 38.9133835, -106.3170547

Ascend on narrow dirt trail overlooking Bear Lake


Location: 38.9038696, -106.2974625

Mt. Columbia (14,073 ft.)


Location: 38.9167747, -106.3182755

Continue N; look to the R to find the craggy ridge connecting Harvard and Columbia


Location: 38.9220009, -106.320816

Scramble up a steep boulder field to summit Harvard


Location: 38.9243889, -106.3206558

Mt. Harvard (14,420 ft.): Sign the register (stored in a plastic zip lock bag), then admire scenic vistas of Horn Fork Basin to the S and the surrounding sea of jagged ridgelines; retrace route