Mt. Columbia  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-12, By: MountainManta1
Info: A light snowfall on 10/11/2020 covered portions of the trail. The route varies from bare, to covered by half an inch, to ankle deep. Only challenge was locating the right turns after the Columbia/Harvard junction which has new signage. I brought spikes but never put them on. I was the lone soul on the mountain this morning on a windy day. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-08, By: mtgoatmike
Info: Trail thru the forest has multiple streams and creek crossings that are flowing. The trail itself is dry, except for a small patch of snow on the saddle between the false summit and true summit. 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-08, By: marcusmartin
Info: CR 365 to the North Cottonwood TH is completely smooth and any vehicle can make it without a problem. I arrived in my standard 4 Runner at 8:00 am and there were two cars in the lot. Picture 1 is the first sign ~1 mile, go right to "Harvard" for Mt. Columbia; Picture 2 is the new sign at ~3 miles, go right to Mt. Columbia. From ~11,500' to ~12,600' the new trail work of the CFI is truly outstanding - THANK YOU CFI!! See Pictures 3 - 6. From the shoulder ~12,700' to the ridge ~13,600' is very loose rock and dirt; it's pretty much vertical - tough section!. Poles are strongly recommended, esp. on the decent. See Pictures 7-10. Turn left at the top of the ridge for the 1/2 mile to the Summit. Trail is somewhat difficult to follow and very rocky on the final approach to the Summit. I was alone on the Summit for 1/2 hour. Saw 3 other hikers all day. Summer conditions; no snow. T-Shirt on the Summit. See Summit Pictures 11-14. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-05, By: scrambling
Info: An update on the road to the trailhead. Good news!! The perpendicular gully washout across the road that may have presented a clearance problem for some vehicles has been filled in and smoothed out with base material and fist-sized aggregate. The same material application and grading has been applied to several other rough and rocky patches in the first half of the road (up to the Colorado Trail parking area). The last half of the road (which is not as steep) was and remains in good shape. Thus the entire road is now (IMO) quite easily traversed by a low-clearance, sedan-type vehicle. In fact, although I would not recommend it, a Mini Cooper could probably make it up to the Harvard-Columbia trailhead without much problem. Bottom line, this is a significant improvement. In other road news, the Aspen leaves are now definitely past their peak, but still quite pleasing to the eye for, probably, another week or two at least. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-30, By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: The trail is great and easily runnable on the way down - really appreciate all of the great work! It seems CFI has broken down most of camp but still have some gear left in the basin. They shuttled a number of horses (6-8 maybe?) up and down today to bring down the gear from camp. I would expect they have another day or two left, and they'll probably finish by the end of the week. I thought it was worth mentioning this for 2 reasons: 1) I had my dog with me and she had never seen a horse before. She was understandably a little freaked out, but on leash so it wasn't a big deal. The group also had a working dog with them that didn't take kindly to another dog being within 20 yards of his "flock". 2) There is quite a lot of manure on the trail up to the Columbia split. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-22, By: scrambling
Info: The Road: It's not that bad. Early on there is a fairly deep, perpendicular ditch/swale that cannot be avoided and could be a problem for a vehicle with low clearance. After that, there are some rough, rocky patches that cannot be avoided (but aren't too bad) and numerous potholes that can be avoided. There are also several lengthy stretches where the road is in pretty good shape. Dust is minimal. Also, the aspens are turning and will probably be at their peak over the next week or two. It's a pretty drive, especially right now. The Trail: From the trailhead at 9,600' to the end of the CFI improvements at 12,900' it is a beautiful, Class 1 trail that is 99% dry. The next 600 vertical feet of scree is annoying and slippery, but dry. Although not easy, a use trail through this section is easy to follow. There is some snow on the relatively long summit ridge, but it is either avoidable or easily traversed. The Photos: #1, ditch/swale in the road. #2, CFI improved trail above 11,600. #3, scree/use trail above 12,900 #4, summit ridge 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: kcslivka
Info: The trail seems to be improving as more distance and sunshine are gained from the early September storm. Very little mud or snow on the mild ascent toward Horn Fork Basin--all the snow is in the pictures attached, as well as photos of the general trail shape, which is very good. Some snow at the final approach to the summit, but it can be avoided and was well packed through when I climbed. As others mentioned, an excellent new trail, primarily switchbacks and steps, through most of the route once it cuts off from the main trail up the basin. There's about a mile, between miles 5 and 6 by my tracker, of steep-n'-slide above the current end of the new CFI trail work. I'd recommend a pole or two to help with the descent back through this section. Though I didn't take it, the route between Harvard and Columbia looks very good--a general photo is attached. With the new trail, my GPS counted a 13.1-mile round trip and 4,250 feet of elevation gain. Not sure how accurate these devices are, but I'd guess it's in the ball park. I consider myself a medium-fast climber, and it took me 6.5 hours from trailhead to trailhead. Thank you to CFI and its network of volunteers and sponsors for doing the hard work that allows the rest of us to better enjoy our public lands! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-18, By: sigepnader
Info: Muddy at the beginning before bridges. Snow on ridge before summit but can be avoided. The new trail..AMAZING. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: smchasta
Info: Traverse is absolutely terrible right now. Snow covering the talus field and very unstable. Turns into boulder hopping and the snow is not stable enough to step onto the unknown. Plan 4 hours for the traverse if you absolutely want to do it. Alternatively, you can travel down the grass below the traverse and up the ridge above the usual approach with limited snow. I'd go this way instead of the talus field right now. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-02, By: Melinda27
Info: Wow! I cannot imagine what the route was like up Columbia before CFI made the amazing trail. Reading other reports before I hiked, I worried a little about the near top section that others had said was steep. It wasn't as bad as I imagined. After a light dusting of snow which melted for my trip down, it made the dirt a little tacky which was helpful. This is quite an impressive mountain. Once you get off the Horn Fork Basin trail it is up up up so be mentally ready! But the trail the CFI made is incredible. Also be ready on your descent, once you get back to the main trail, it is a deceivingly long return to the car which is a testament to the trail up that really packs HUGE elevation gain in a short bit. Spectacular views of Yale and Harvard and nearby lakes. Some of the others were obscured by thick clouds. The road to the TH was indeed rougher than I remembered from 2018 but made it in a Subaru Outback. This mountain will be near and dear to my heart as I waited two years to do it! Enjoy this beast with it's rewarding views! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-25, By: Mzapo
Info: Trail is in great condition up until the loose dirt encountered about 2/3rds the way up to the ridge, but just requires a bit of hard work and patience to make it past there. I got to the trailhead in a dodge charger without bottoming so it is doable, just ensure you are vigilant over the big rut others have mentioned and go over the rocks others have built up in it. Overall, a long gradual trek through the forest, followed by a short but steep climb up to the ridge, then a scramble to the summit 0.50 miles or so past the ridge. Gorgeous hike and thank you to CFI for working hard to make the adventure amazing! 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-25, By: swesleyc7
Info: Conditions are fair... the nearby CO fires are making the atmosphere noticeably hazy. I'm not sure how good the air quality is, but I did feel my sinuses were more dry and I sneezed a bit. Side note: is the CMC revising the standard route? I noticed the GPS route we walked on the well-laid trail is different from that of the "west slope" route shown on the topo map. 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-15, By: SmoothTurns
Info: Road to TH really does require good clearance right now (at least a Subaru, but preferably Tacoma/Xterra/4Runner type). Folks at the trailhead in sedans have to be messing up their vehicles. Hike was fantastic. Really can't understate how well done the "new" West Slopes are up to about 13k feet. It's steep and loose above 13k. Luckily it wasn't crowded on the trail considering it was a Saturday. People were definitely sending loose rocks down the hill. Smoke wasn't too bad. A little haze early, and actually pretty clear after 10am. From the summit the smoke looked REALLY bad to the North. 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-10, By: Been_Jammin
Info: Fact(s): Summer conditions Opinion(s): This is not a good route for the doggo. My doggo is a beast on the trail and I'm glad I didn't bring him. Yes it is class 2, but there is a lot of movement through talus on undefined trail/route which just isn't dog friendly. I felt bad for some of the furry friends I saw yesterday. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-02, By: Rosey
Info: The first 3.7 miles is very easy and was easy to follow with a headlamp. From the first turnoff toward Columbia, I can only echo the comments of others... CFI has done an incredible job of trail building between 11,600 and 13,000, to make this a very enjoyable trail section. Now that said the 600 ft to the ridge line at 13,600 is still very steep, loose dirt and scree. If the old trail from 11,600 to 13,600 was like this, it would have been a miserable experience. With the improvements, it is quite enjoyable. The final scramble to the summit is easier than many. Rosey 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-30, By: jryor121
Info: Hiked the traverse from a sunset summit of Mt. Harvard. Trail was totally fine, except for the fact that I had no clue where the trail was the entire time. This included the descent, which consisted of skating down scree for the entire face of the mountain back to the main trail. Portions of the approach trail can be a bit muddy in spots, so just be careful and don't get too overconfident trying not the slip. 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-20, By: clab01
Info: My wife and daughter started our hike up Columbia at 6am. The drive in was fairly easy, but would recommend an SUV as the road is a little rough in places and you need clearance. The three of us are avid runners and work out regularly and climb multiple 14ers each summer. The round trip took us 7 hours and we logged 12.2 miles which is slightly different than the website. I think the difference is the new route once you clear the trees. The first 4 miles are pretty easy, the last two miles are very hard. The new trail from 4 miles to about 4.5 miles is excellent. Once that trail ends the next mile is very steep with a lot of scree and the last half-mile requires a good bit of bouldering including two false summits. It took us just over 3 hours to reach the summit which is AMAZING. You can see a number of different 14ers from the summit and the views are incredible. It took us about the same amount of time to get down as it did to go up. If you are new to hiking or an average hiker, you should plan for a 9-10 hour day. It is an excellent hike, just be prepared for a long day. 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-06, By: Btuperkwh
Info: Summer conditions, no snow. Columbia trail turn-off can be confusing but is almost exactly 4 miles from the N. Cottonwood Creek trail head. Trail up is great! New trail work ends just below the ridge so there is some steep scree/dirt to navigate. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-02, By: ClimberSkierDave64
Info: Like said before, the new trail is awesome. However, the old trail segment above the end of the new trail really isn't that bad and is more just steep dirt with solid rocks to step on for additional traction. A CFI crew is currently working on finishing touches on the trail up until 12,900 ft. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-01, By: dennywitte
Info: The new CFI trail is awesome! What you need to know, however, is that the new CFI trail ends at 12,900 and the old trail must be used to gain the ridge at 13,600. This steep, loose scree filled section is the crux of the route. A CFI worker I talked with said that this will likely not be improved this year as the 5th year of trail work wraps up. 
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