6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
Locals affectionately claim Mount Yale as Buena Vista's "backyard 14er." The 14,199-foot summit towers above town, and the trailhead is very accessible via the paved Cottonwood Pass road.
despite being a so-called "backyard" peak, the climb to the summit of Mount Yale is no small challenge. The most popular route begins from the Denny Creek trailhead, switchbacking back and forth through the trees.
After turning onto the trail toward Yale's summit, the singletrack gets narrower and less trodden.
The route breaks out above tree line into a beautiful valley well below the summit, meaning hikers spending a significant amount of time above tree line on this route.
Here, the trail begins to switchback back and forth in earnest, with recent trail improvements providing stone steps to help with the climb. The steepest pitch up the upper face is a difficult climb indeed.
While switchbacks have been built into the mountainside, the steep grade and the sliding scree make for a challenging ascent to gain the ridge. Once on top of the ridge the steepest climb may be over, but a sea of massive boulders requiring full-bore scrambling still stands between you and the summit.
While none of the scrambling is extremely technical or exposed, you'll have to fully engage all of your limbs to reach the gorgeous 360-degree view from the mountain's summit.