Photo
Mt. Columbia
standard West Slopes
print
Difficulty:
 Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:N. Cottonwood Creek
Start:9,900 feet
Summit:14,073 feet
Total Gain:4,250 feet
RT Length:12.00 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2021
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:241 reports
Cell Signal:13 reports
Sheriff:Chaffee: 719-539-2596
Forest:San Isabel
Wilderness:Collegiate Peaks
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Turn west on County Road (CR) 350 (Crossman Ave.) near the center of Buena Vista. This road is less than 1/2 mile north of the stoplight in the center of town. Continue on CR 350 for 2 miles and turn right onto CR 361. After almost 1 mile, turn left onto CR 365 (dirt). Continue on this road for over 5 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. Turn right into the wooded parking area which loops around counter-clockwise. The trail starts on the west side of the parking area.

Route

1 shows the route above tree line. Locate the trail, walk down to a bridge crossing and follow the excellent trail ( 2) for 1.6 miles and cross another bridge. Shortly after that crossing, you'll reach a trail junction. Stay right for Horn Fork Basin and Bear Lake. Follow the well-defined trail ( 3) another 1.75 miles to a small clearing at 11,250' where you can see Columbia's southwest shoulder up to your right - 4. Continue on the main trail for another .3 mile to the Columbia trail junction - 5. Turn right for Mt. Columbia.

After hiking a short distance through forest, enter a linear clearing to find another trail junction - 6. Turn right and continue through forest before reaching another small, linear clearing. Cross it and continue southeast to exit the trees at the base of a wide gully on the southwest side of Columbia - 7. On a defined trail, continue up through talus before swinging right (southeast) to gain a shoulder - 8, 9 and 10.

Once on the shoulder ( 11), follow the trail east and then north as it switchbacks up the shoulder - 12 and 13. Near 13,300', the terrain gets steeper and the trail rugged and less-defined - 14. Zigzag up through the rocks until the terrain eases a bit near 13,500' and follow the trail to the ridge , at 13,680' - 15. The summit is 1/2 mile away. With the remaining route now in view, hike north along the ridge over rock bumps - 16. Near 13,800', reach a point where you can once again see the summit, across a flat section - 17. Continue along the ridge - 18. Pass between two rock piles and gain the summit - 19, 20 and 21.

Notes

IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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