Hiking Mount Yale

Hiking Mount Yale | 14er Route Description, Map & Advice

Please Follow Leave No Trace Ethics!

This area is increasingly popular and experiencing heavy impacts from public use. Please stay on the designated trail, pack out trash, practice good trail etiquette, and leave pets at home. Click here to learn more.

Mt Yale, one of the collegiate peaks, rises high above the Arkansas River Valley. There are two routes up the mountain, each with accessible trailheads year-round. This makes it a good training peak for more difficult hikes and climbs. With lots of camping in the area, it’s a great opportunity to stay and climb several Sawatch 14ers in one trip. I recommend a visit to Buena Visita following your trip for a cold beer and a good meal. Start planning your adventure with this free Mount Yale Route Guide.


Hiking Mount Yale: Fast Facts

Remember Mountain Safety Best Practices!

14ers can be dangerous due to altitude sickness, lightning, variable weather conditions, loose rock, and exposure. If you are new to hiking and climbing 14ers, click here and take a minute to review our safety tips and advice.

Hiking Mount Yale - Southwest Slopes Route

Your trip hiking Mount Yale will begin at the Denny Creek Trailhead. From the parking lot, take the well-built trail along Denny Creek up the drainage. Eventually, come to a small bridge to cross to the other side of the creek. It’s no challenge, though trek poles may be helpful. Continue right.

As you begin to climb out of the valley below, enjoy a well-constructed trail thanks to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. Dip in and out of tree line and be wary of small patches of snow on the trail in the fall and spring months.

Once above treeline, swing around on the trail before approaching a steep pitch. This slope includes several switchbacks that take you up to Mt Yale’s ridgeline. Take your time up what is essentially the crux of hiking Mount Yale. Please don’t cut the switchbacks here, as it damages the fragile alpine tundra.

Once on the ridge, look to the right to see the remainder of your route. From here, the trail shifts to scrambling and requires more handwork as you go. This is a good place to check the weather conditions before continuing hiking Mount Yale to the summit.

Follow cairns as you move up the summit ridge, moving around any outcrops or drop-offs that come up on the ridge itself. Stay more to the right of the ridge to avoid exposure on the left side. 

Once you make it to the top, enjoy the accomplishment! Eat a sandwich and get that summit picture. Make sure you head back down with enough time to avoid afternoon thunderstorms above the tree line. I hope you enjoyed this Mt Yale Route Guide. Good luck hiking Mount Yale, and safe travels on the trail.

Mt Yale Route Guide

Anyone hiking Mount Yale should have a good topographical map of the route with them. I highly recommend downloading it on your phone and printing out a paper backup copy if anything happens to your electronics along the climb.

Mt Yale Route Guide

Before hiking Mount Yale you should check the weather forecast several times using several different sources. Check for temperature, precipitation, major storm systems, and wind. Here are several dependable weather sources to get started with.

Mountain Forecast for Mt Yale

NOAA Forecast for Mt Yale

Mt Yale Route Guide

The Mount Yale Trailhead can be reached by all 2WD passenger vehicles.


From U.S. 24 in the center of Buena Vista, take the County 306 road towards Cottonwood Pass. Drive 12 miles on this road to reach the Denny Creek Trailhead and paved parking area on the right.

When I hike 14ers like Mount Yale, I always wear hiking boots rather than shoes or sneakers. They provide better traction and ankle support for tough scrambles like you’ll find while hiking Mount Yale. Here are my top hiking boot recommendations.

You should always bring the ten essentials with you on your trip (see the infographic below). To carry them all, bring a backpack with 20-30 liters capacity. These are several good backpack options that won’t break the bank. 

While trekking poles are not a necessity on this mountain, I use them myself as they offer many benefits and make hiking easier. If you want a pair, I share my personal favorites here

Don’t forget to bring 2 liters of water, and a good bit of snacks and food for the trail. Learn more about packing for a 14er here.

Camping near Mount Yale:

There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along the road leading to the trailhead ideal for those hiking Mount Yale. Note that camping is not allowed at the trailhead. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Lodging near Mount Yale:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Buena Vista and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking Mount Yale.

Help keep Mount Yale beautiful for future generations of hikers and campers by following these Leave No Trace practices while hiking Mount Yale. Specifically, this includes:

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck hiking Mount Yale! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

Coming Soon!

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

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


Hiking Mount Yale 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 risk.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located 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. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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