Guidebook

River to Summit: 5 Best Hikes Close to Buena Vista, CO

Explore the incredible topography surrounding the small town of Buena Vista, CO.

Description

Buena Vista has been blessed with a topographical diversity that most mountain TOWNS could only dream of! Just across the rushing Arkansas River from downtown, foothills rise abruptly toward the towering Buffalo Peaks. In these foothills, you’ll find massive domes of exposed granite, slabs of bedrock, and gnarly fields of boulders. On the opposite side of the valley, the Continental Divide strikes an impressive pose, with 14,000-foot mountain peaks scraping the blue dome of the sky.

With such a stunning landscape and hundreds of square miles of public land, you can discover a small of adventures to occupy you here in Buena Vista. So how do you narrow the long list of lust-worthy landscapes to the absolute five best day hikes?

This guidebook is the answer.

First, you can’t visit Buena Vista without bagging a 14er summit. Mount Yale is BV’s backyard 14er, with over a dozen others within easy striking distance of town. This guidebook details all the 14ers in the Sawatch Range.

For a more attainable climb to the top of a small mountain, try hiking to the top of Midland Hill directly from downtown. Without even having to get in your car, the convenience can’t be beaten, and you’ll get to explore the stunning granite domes and boulders mentioned above.

While you could choose to hike short loops in the close-to-town trail system or bag even more peaks high up in the mountains, the last three hikes on this list all lead to gorgeous alpine lakes, without traveling far from town. The three featured here are Ptarmigan Lake, Kroenke Lake, and Hartenstein Lake. If you want to explore even more lakes, check out this dedicated guidebook filled with 14 alpine lakes in Central Colorado!

Midland Hill
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Midland Hill

Buena Vista
2 - 3 hrs
7.8 km
517 m
517 m
A remarkably beautiful hike beginning in downtown Buena Vista.
Severe
Private
Mount Yale
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Yale

Buena Vista
13.3 km
1,300 m
Buena Vista's backyard 14er offers a challenging climb with a rewarding summit view.
Easy
Private
Ptarmigan Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Ptarmigan Lake

Buena Vista
2 - 3 hrs
10.9 km
484 m
484 m
A popular 3-mile hike to a beautiful alpine lake.
Moderate
Private
Kroenke Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Kroenke Lake

Buena Vista
3 - 4 hrs
13.7 km
511 m
507 m
This alpine lake provides options from day hike to shuttle hike to backpacking destination.
Difficult
Private
Hartenstein Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hartenstein Lake

Buena Vista
2 - 3 hrs
9.3 km
507 m
491 m
Hike to an alpine lake deep in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
Difficult
Private