Best time to visit Colorado

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

An amazing collection of fourteeners in the heart of the Sawatch Range

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado 2020 - Best Time

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is a climber's paradise located in the San Isabel and Gunnison National Forests of central Colorado, between towns of Leadville and Buena Vista. The area got its name due to prominent peaks that were named after top American universities: Mt. Harvard, Mt. Princeton, Mt. Columbia, and Mt. Yale. All of them are higher than 14,000 ft (4,267 m). Other fourteeners of the area include Mount Belford, Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, and Missouri Mountain. Slightly smaller chain Three Apostles consists of three mountains in 6 mi (10 km) south of Winfield. The middle peak is known as the most challenging to climb among Collegiate Peaks.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness occupies 168,000 acres (680 square kilometers) of area. It's a favorite destination of not only climbers but also hikers, backpackers, and nature lovers. There are at least 21 trails, shorter and longer ones. Waterfalls, lakes, mountain creeks, and rivers, as well as alpine meadows and valleys, make this area exceptionally beautiful. The snow usually melts by July, and the area is available for hiking through September. Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is traversed by the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail.

Three Collegiate Peaks—Mount Harvard, Mount Columbia and Mount Yale, taken from a hillside along the Continental Divide, just above Cottonwood Pass. 2020
Three Collegiate Peaks—Mount Harvard, Mount Columbia and Mount Yale, taken from a hillside along the Continental Divide, just above Cottonwood Pass.

For the moderate one-day hike, choose Lake Anne Trail. It leads to picturesque Lake Ann sitting at 11,800 ft (3,597 m) surrounded by the Three Apostles. The trail that is just 3 mi (5 km) one way starts near the ghost town of Winfield.

Find hotels and airbnbs near Collegiate Peaks Wilderness (Map)