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Backpacking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Salida Ranger District

Quick Facts

Bear Lake/Horn Fork

Beginning Elevation: 9,900 Feet (3086.0 Meters) North Cottonwood Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain, One-way: 2,520 Feet (785.5 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,420 Feet (3871.6 Meters) Bear Lake
Length, One-way: 6 Miles (10.0 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 1449
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Mount Harvard

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The Bear Lake/Horn Fork Trail leads almost 6 miles from County Road 365 to Bear Lake. It follows North Cottonwood Creek approximately 2 miles to a fork in the trail. The left fork goes to Kroenke Lake. The right fork follows Horn Fork Basin to the north. The mileage to Bear Lake from the trail fork is approximately 4 miles. The elevation gain is steep at first climbing about 320' in the first quarter mile. From there the terrain levels and the remainder of the climb is mild. Bear Lake lies at 12,420'.

There is camping at Kroenke Lake at 11,530'; and there is also camping at Bear Lake below timberline as the trail enters the basin. Mt. Harvard dominates the view to the north while Mt. Yale rises in broad Sawatch form to the south. A climb up the grassy slopes and drainages of Harvard's south shoulder and a mild scramble over the summit boulders bring you to the granite blocks on the top.

Directions from Buena Vista: Drive north on Highway 24 to County Road 350. Turn left (west) on to 350 and travel approximately 2 miles. Turn north (right) on County Road 361 and drive 1 mile to County Road 365. Turn left on to 365 and follow it 5.5 miles to the trailhead.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late May through Mid-October .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Bear Lake/Horn Fork Trail
ICON Dispersed Camping Bear Lake/Horn Fork Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Bear Lake/Horn Fork
ICON Horseback Riding Bear Lake/Horn Fork Trail

Related Activities
Mt. Columbia Trail - This trail is approximately 7.5 miles one-way through the high alpine terrain of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. The high point of the trail is the summit of Mt. Columbia which measures in as one of Colorado's fourteeners at 14,073'.

Mt. Harvard - At 14,420' Mt. Harvard is the third highest peak in Colorado. It lies in the Sawatch Mountain Range and is easily accessible from Buena Vista.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce, 406 West Rainbow Blvd. , Salida, CO, , Phone: 719-539-3591


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