Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Top choice hiking in Buena Vista

Who said the Ivy League has to be stuck-up and boring? Encompassing 166,938 acres laced with 105 miles of trails, the Collegiate Peaks has the highest average elevation of any wilderness area in the US: eight peaks exceed 14,000ft, including the state’s 3rd- and 5th-highest summits, Mt Harvard and La Plata Peak. (Princeton, Yale, Oxford and Columbia are the 20th, 21st, 26th and 35th respectively.)

Mt Huron, meanwhile, doesn't have the name recognition of its neighbors, but it is arguably the top climb. But the best hikes here don't necessarily involve peak bagging. Popular day trips include Ptarmigan Lake (6.6 miles; 14 miles from town on County Rd 306), Kroenke Lake (8 miles; access County Rd 365) and as much of the Colorado Trail as you want to do (access Avalanche Trailhead, 9 miles from town on County Rd 306). For detailed descriptions and maps, stop by the ranger office in Salida.