Mount Columbia

 West Slopes
Difficulty Class 2 
Risk FactorsExposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start9,900 feet
Summit14,075 feet
Total Gain4,250 feet
RT Length12.00 miles
SheriffChaffee: 719-539-2596
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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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.


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.


#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21

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