Hiking Mount Harvard | A Spectacular Collegiate 14er

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Many people believe that hiking Mount Harvard is the most beautiful trip involving the 14ers. It’s also one of the longer 14er treks, with a tiring 14 miles round-trip. This makes it a great opportunity for an overnight backpacking trip, with a first day hike into the upper basin, and a second summit day. If you have enough time, you can also scramble over to Mount Columbia to bag a second 14er in the area. This traverse takes a lot of route-finding and time, so make sure you research that route specifically if you want to attempt it. Start planning your trip with this free guide for hiking Mount Harvard.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Mount Harvard: Fast Facts

Hiking Mount Harvard - South Slopes Route

From the trailhead cross a bridge and start hiking Mount Harvard 1.5 miles until you come across a second, sturdier bridge. Continue another mile before coming to a trail junction. Take the path to the right and hike on.

As you near tree line you will see the route to go beyond you. You’ll work your way up moraines to the left of Mt Harvard before hiking up the south slope to the summit. Continue along the well-maintained trail.

Now you’ll have a more complete view of the route ahead of you. Stay on route to protect the fragile terrain as you’re hiking Mount Harvard. – it’s also much easier.

Once over the final moraine you’ll see a series of switchbacks ahead of you. These will bring you up the the higher southern slopes before you cross over to climb to the summit.

Now on the upper slopes, turn to your right and follow the trail up to the summit ridge. For a time you’ll have a clear trail to follow, but look for cairns to help you stay on route in rocky terrain.

Nearing the summit area, the trail will turn to talus-hopping and require some scrambling. Keep it up – you’re almost there at this point!

The final few feet to the summit is the crux of the climb. There are several variations you can take to reach the top of the summit block, all Class 2. Pick your line and send it to the summit! Take your time, you’re in no rush.

Once on the summit, enjoy your accomplishment. Be sure you give yourself enough time to get back to tree line by noon when thunderstorms move in. If you have researched the route for the traverse to Mount Columbia, and the weather is clear, you can consider climbing on to this peak. Otherwise, it’s best to descend.

I hope you enjoyed my Mt Harvard Route Guide. If you do attempt this adventure, good luck hiking Mount Harvard, and safe travels on the trail!

Mt Harvard Route Guide

A good topographical map is a part of any good Mt Harvard Route Guide. If you are planning on hiking Mount Harvard, I recommend you download this digital map on your phone and print a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics.

Before hiking Mount Harvard, it’s critically important to plan for the weather conditions. You should check the weather forecast multiple times before your trip. Here are several dependable sources for forecasts for the Mount Harvard route.

Mountain Forecast for Mt Harvard

NOAA Forecast for Mt Harvard

Mt Harvard Route Guide

Hiking Mount Harvard is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  2. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  3. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  4. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  5. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Mount Harvard is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own rosk.

Alex Derr

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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