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Frenchman Creek #1457



7.0 mile 11.3 kilometer point to point
67% Runnable


Ascent: 4,517' 1,377 m
Descent: -42' -13 m
High: 14,365' 4,379 m
Low: 9,891' 3,015 m


Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)


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Trail shared by Tyler Prince

An easier alternative to Mt. Harvard's standard route.

Tyler Prince

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

During the winter and often into late spring, the Frenchman Creek Trailhead is generally closed as low as 8,000 ft.

The land manager requests all dogs be leashed, although the few dogs you do see will most likely be roaming somewhere near their owners.

Runner Notes

Up until the summit block of Mt. Harvard, this trail provides a clear, well-maintained, and generally low-grade route for alpine runners.


From Frenchman Creek trailhead, make your way up a clear trail through dense forest. Grades are low and there are few roots or rocks. Pass two "no motor vehicle" signs. Take note of the second: there is a fork here. Continue up, but on the way down, stay on the smaller trail (from which you came).

Continue along the trail, crossing Frenchman Creek at tree line in another 10-15 minutes. At this point you are in a wide basin, with Mt. Columbia to your left and Mt. Harvard on the right. To summit the latter, continue through the basin on sometimes vague trail. Come to a grassy ridge, with the Harvard and Columbia traverse to your left. Stay right, hooking up with the Harvard and Columbia route to attain the summit of the former.

Head up and to the right on grassy slopes. The trail here isn't clear, but the summit is, so just walk toward it. Once at 13,800 ft, the ridge narrows and the trail becomes clearer. Scramble along some class 2+ rock formations (class 3 if you get bored) to attain the summit. Take note, Mt. Harvard boasts an elevation of 14,420 ft, so it's a long way up.

Flora & Fauna

From trees and wildflowers to marmots and pika, this route has it all. For some reason, the mountain goats up high are particularly sodium-deprived, to the point where they will follow you around just waiting for you to relieve yourself. The USFS has actually gone so far as to suggest runners urinate on solid rock instead of dirt trail, thus discouraging these odd creatures from literally eating dirt.

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes


in Buena Vista


  4.0 from 2 votes
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6 Views Last Month
2,006 Since Mar 6, 2015



Excellent views of Princeton, Yale, and Bear Lake from Harvard's summit. Much of the trail is visible in the lower left
Oct 2, 2017 near Buena V…, CO
Coming off the traverse, from rocks back to grass on Frenchman Creek Trail
Mar 12, 2015 near Buena V…, CO


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