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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Mount Yale Summit Trail, CO

no permit
40 6 1
Guide 6 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > South Central
5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,464 feet
Elevation Gain 4,723 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,728 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 28.34
Interest Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
12  2016-07-16 LindaAnn
7  2016-07-16 friendofThunderg
11  2014-07-11 rvcarter
10  2012-08-24 BobP
Author rvcarter
author avatar Guides 33
Routes 304
Photos 2,146
Trips 236 map ( 1,436 miles )
Age 73 Male Gender
Location tucson, az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Autumn
Sun  5:47am - 6:14pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Yale is not a university
by rvcarter

Likely In-Season!
Mount Yale, at 14,196 feet above sea level, is the 21st highest 14er in Colorado. It’s located about 10 miles west of Buena Vista, Colorado, in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness portion of the Sawatch Range. This description is for the “standard” route (according to called the Southwest Slopes route which begins at the Denny Creek Trailhead.

The Denny Creek Trailhead parking lot is huge, free, and can be reached by passenger car in the summer. There are considerable camping opportunities in the area, but I didn’t see any right at the trailhead. The Collegiate Peaks CG is just back the way you came about a mile. The road has a gravel surface and is well graded (at least in the summer). It is relatively flat the entire drive in from U.S. Hwy 24. However, a winter closure gate is located just past the parking lot.

The Southwest Slopes hike to Yale has a little bit of everything that part of Colorado has to offer and is a beautiful hike in the summer. You hike along Denny Creek for about nearly a mile to the intersection of the Browns Pass Trail and Mt. Yale Trail #1451 (nice sign here). At the intersection, you turn right (northeast) and generally follow the creek passing through Delaney Gulch till you reach the tree line. At about 11,500 feet elevation, the trail turns south west for about ½ mile, then North. Here’s where the switchbacks are. The last 2,000 feet of climbing is accomplished in about a mile.

Despite these daunting statistics, I felt the hike to Yale was among the easiest of the dozen or so 14ers I have done. Yale’s class 2 difficulty rating puts it slightly more difficult than 8 other 14er routes (all class 1), and in the same class 2 as Huron from the northwest and Shavano from the east, to name just a couple. However, the 14er difficulty rating is based more on the climbing difficulty than on other factors, such as accumulated elevation gain.
The views along the way, once you clear the tree line, and at the top, are magnificent. The views at the top of Yale (and most other 14ers) are awesome, incredible, unbelievable…just jaw dropping. I’ve hiked a lot of places, but the 14ers of Colorado are among the best in the world. The sense of achievement one feels is….well, I’ve run out of adjectives. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend trying a 14er. If the body will let you, you won’t regret it. Just start early and keep plugging.

I’m uploading a one-way track from Denny Creek TH, which is where most people will start. If I’m unable to set a new official (the current official is by Hazbot but starts at the trail’s intersection with the Brown's Pass Trail), I recommend using mine instead of the official since mine covers the entire way up.

There is another route to Yale (not covered here), also class 2, about a mile longer and 700 feet more aeg that begins from the Avalanche Gulch Trailhead you pass on the way in from Buena Vista. The first part of the trail from Avalanche Gulch is also part of the Colorado Trail, which, if you’re backpacking the CT, may be an alternative of interest.

Storms accompanied by lightning, are nearly a daily occurrence in mountainous Colorado. Many hikers are struck by lightning each year. The rule of thumb is to be well off the peak before noon, but you should look at weather forecasts before starting out and watch the sky while on the trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2016-02-17 rvcarter
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Mount Yale Summit Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This side trip off the Colorado Trail was an example of nearly perfect timing and the HAZ network at its best. Linda and I had talked about maybe meeting up at Mt. Elbert when she was in the area, but I was running a little ahead of schedule and was about 45 minutes down the road in Buena Vista when Linda reached Leadville for a couple of days of hiking and 14ers.

    Not to be deterred and needing a little trail support anyways, I suggested Mt. Yale to Linda. She had already did Elbert, so any additional 14er would just be bonus for her and she could also give me a hand getting to the TH and grabbing a few supplies before I hit the trail. Sounded like a "win" "win" to me! We did have to get an early start, so I could get back on the CT that day, but Linda did not mind. Although, it was not as early a wake-up for me, as I was camped very close to the TH.

    We made pretty good time up to the main saddle guarding Yale. You still have another 200 feet or so of elevation to gain after this and a little ridgeline scramble, but at 13,900 feet, making it to the saddle pretty much means you are there. Linda kept apologizing for being a little slow, but I assured her that we were probably among the fastest on the mountain that day and that I was running on the advantage of having spent the last two weeks living around 11,000 feet.

    The summit was very cool, with some tremendous 360 degree views and a fun little ridgeline and final approach to contend with. Despite a pretty strong cold wind, we enjoyed the summit for a several minutes. We chatted it up with a few locals, snapped a bunch of pictures, tested the 3G and headed back down.

    As one could expect when gaining over 4000 feet in four miles, the return trip was quick! I bummed a Gatorade from Linda's cooler, enjoyed a few snacks and had her drop me back off at the same place I had exited the CT the day before. A very cool 14er and near the top of my short list of favorites. Huge HAZ appreciation Linda's way for helping me resupply and sneaking in a "must do" 14er in my opinion!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    To get to the trailhead, turn west in Buena Vista onto W. Main St. (which is also Chaffee County Hwy 306 and Cottonwood Pass Road) and drive 12 miles. The trailhead is on your right. Buena Vista is located between Salida and Leadville on U.S. Hwy 24.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Feb 17 2016 4:38 pm
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