Harvard Lakes Trail along a section of the Colorado Trail is a casual hike through the forests with intermediate views of the sensational Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas Valley below. Looking for a quiet trail to a couple of sweet lakes situated below Mt. Columbia 14er this is it.

 

Where to hike near Buena Vista, Day Hikes, Harvard Lakes Trail

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Arriving early in the morning on July 2nd the ground is still wet from dew and the air slightly humid. It’s surprisingly warm for being so early, as the morning clouds break away to blue skies.

After a bumpy ride up a dirt road, we almost missed the trailhead. There is an unmarked pull-off to our left for parking and the trail is just beyond on the right. Excited to get started.

 

Colorado Trail

 

Not a strenuous hike, however, the first mile is straight up through switchbacks and got our hearts pumping. But, soon forgotten as we entered a lush forest. It’s early morning and as we hiked up, the dew-covered terrain is sparkling in the morning sunshine along the sides of the trail.

Views of the snow-capped Collegiate Peaks are stunning as we huff n puff our way up before reaching the forest.

 

 

Here, the trail is a gentle hike through pines & aspens, with sprinkles of wildflowers and chipmunks scurrying about. Several areas were very lush, still wet from previous rains, and very misquote friendly. Bring your bug spray!

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. At high altitudes, dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider. CLICK HERE> for a look at Practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike

 

 

Just before reaching Harvard Lakes, the path becomes rugged and rocky with a slight incline and you get the feeling you are close. The pleasant sound of water cascading downstream somewhere close by is a clue.

 

 

Harvard Lakes, Buena Vista Trails, Colorado

 

1st HARVARD LAKE

The first Harvard Lake is so green, almost neon in the bright sunshine. Very pretty and quiet, with only a couple of people who are fishing along the shoreline.

 

 

Hiking past the lake is captivating through the trees as we head to the 2nd lake. I’ve hiked here before from a different trailhead and still this lake and view through the trees grabs my attention. Several dispersed campsites filtered throughout aspens along the trail between both lakes were enticing also.

CLICK HERE> to read Hiking to Harvard Lakes via Elk Trail #1445, which we hiked 2 years ago. It is completely different from this hike and just as rewarding!

 

 

 

Harvard Lakes, Buena Vista hikes, Colorado, Collegiate Peaks Trails

 

2nd HARVARD LAKE

The 2nd lake is different in every way. The views of Mt. Columbia add that extra “wow” factor. The water is so calm and clear that we could enjoy all the abundant baby trout (called Parr) swimming about and jumping everywhere.

 

 

Rated moderate this hike would be doable as a beginner hike for those acclimated to the altitude. The start is steep yet with a few stops to catch your breath it’s worth the effort as the remainder is gentle.

TIDBITS

6 mile out & back

Rated: moderate

No restrooms

Start Elevation: 9120 ft.

Ending Elevation: approx: 10,340 ft.

Open to dogs and horses

Nestled at the base of Mt. Columbia

Located in the Sawatch Range

San Isabel National Forest

Chaffee County

Nearest town: Buena Vista, CO

LOCATED

From the traffic light at Main St in downtown Buena Vista, head north on US-24 for 0.4 miles to CR 350 (Crossman Avenue). Turn left (west) onto Crossman and continue for 2 miles before turning right onto CR 361. Head north on CR-361 for 1.1 miles, and then turn left onto CR 365, a rough dirt road but accessible to most 2WD vehicles. Go 3.6 miles and you’ll find a small pullout on the left across the road from a trailhead for the Colorado Trail (#1776).

 

HIKES NEARBY

Beautiful Kroenke Lake Trail in the Collegiate Peak Wilderness

Ptarmigan Lake Trail shows off Colorado!

 

Drop a comment below for any questions. Share your adventures with me. I’d love to hear from you, HAPPY TRAILS…

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).