Buena Vista's backyard 14er offers a challenging climb with a rewarding summit view.


Analysing terrain data

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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.

Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

Extreme ExposureSome trail sections are extreme exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.


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.

And yet...

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.