Ardene Pennell

Written by Ardene Pennell

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Mount Harvard, located in the Sawatch Range of Colorado, is a majestic peak that fascinates hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Standing at an impressive height of 14,421 feet, it is the third tallest mountain in Colorado and one of the state’s renowned Fourteeners – a group of peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation.

Aside from its magnificent stature, Mount Harvard is also shrouded in mystery, with a range of enigmatic facts that add to its allure. From its intriguing name to its challenging routes and rich geological history, exploring Mount Harvard unveils a tapestry of captivating stories and natural wonders.

In this article, we will delve into 11 intriguing facts about Mount Harvard. So, put on your hiking boots, strap on your backpack, and let’s embark on a journey filled with astonishment and curiosity as we uncover the secrets of this remarkable peak.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mount Harvard is the second highest peak in Colorado, offering challenging climbs and diverse ecosystems for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy.
  • The mountain’s rich history, geologic wonders, and cultural significance make it a captivating destination for artists, historians, and nature lovers alike.
Table of Contents

The second highest peak in Colorado

Mount Harvard, towering over the Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Range of Colorado, is the state’s second highest peak, standing at an impressive 14,421 feet above sea level. Its majestic presence and breathtaking vistas make it a popular destination for hikers and mountaineers.

A name steeped in history

The mountain was named after Harvard University in 1869 by a group of Harvard alumni who were exploring the area. The name was chosen to honor the prestigious institution and its contributions to education.

Part of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Mount Harvard is located within the boundaries of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, a protected area that spans over 168,000 acres. The wilderness is known for its rugged beauty, pristine lakes, and extensive trail system, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

A challenging ascent

Climbing Mount Harvard is not for the faint of heart. The peak offers multiple routes, some of which require technical climbing skills and experience. However, with proper preparation and skill, reaching the summit is a rewarding accomplishment that provides sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.

Part of the Colorado Fourteeners

Mount Harvard is one of Colorado’s coveted “Fourteeners,” a term used to describe peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. With its impressive height, it attracts climbers from around the world who seek to conquer these challenging summits.

A diverse ecosystem

The slopes of Mount Harvard are home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. From alpine tundra to subalpine forests, the mountain offers a unique habitat for a variety of wildlife, including elk, marmots, and ptarmigans.

A geologic wonder

Mount Harvard is composed primarily of granitic rocks, which were formed deep beneath the Earth’s surface millions of years ago. Its exposed rocky terrain provides a glimpse into the geological history of the region and offers opportunities for geology enthusiasts to study its formation.

A winter wonderland

During the winter months, Mount Harvard transforms into a snowy wonderland, attracting backcountry skiers and snowshoers. The pristine slopes and peaceful serenity make it an ideal destination for those seeking a winter adventure.

A haven for flora

The slopes of Mount Harvard are adorned with a stunning array of wildflowers during the summer months. Lupines, columbines, and paintbrushes paint the landscape with vibrant colors, adding to the beauty of the mountain.

An inspiration for artists

The awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Harvard has captured the hearts of many artists throughout the years. Painters, photographers, and writers have sought inspiration from its grandeur, using their craft to convey the magnificence of the mountain to a wider audience.

A sacred place

For the Native American tribes that have inhabited the region for centuries, Mount Harvard holds cultural and spiritual significance. It is seen as a place of reverence and connection to nature, carrying the stories and traditions of generations who have called this land home.


Mount Harvard is not only a magnificent peak but also holds many enigmatic facts. From its origin story to its challenging trails, this mountain never fails to awe and inspire adventurers. Its pristine beauty and rich history make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts alike.Whether you are scaling its heights or simply exploring its surrounding areas, Mount Harvard offers a truly unforgettable experience. So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime to discover the secrets and wonders of Mount Harvard.


1. What is the elevation of Mount Harvard?
Mount Harvard stands tall at an impressive elevation of 14,421 feet (4,395 meters) above sea level, making it the third highest peak in Colorado.

2. How long does it take to hike Mount Harvard?
The typical hiking time to the summit of Mount Harvard is around 8-10 hours. However, this can vary depending on factors such as the chosen trail, weather conditions, and individual fitness levels.

3. Can I camp on Mount Harvard?
Yes, camping is allowed on Mount Harvard. There are designated campgrounds along the trails where you can set up your tent and spend the night amidst the stunning natural surroundings. However, it is important to obtain the necessary permits and follow all camping regulations.

4. Are there any guided tours or hiking groups available for Mount Harvard?
Yes, there are several guided tours and hiking groups that offer expeditions to Mount Harvard. These tours provide experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the mountain and can enhance your hiking experience. It is advisable to research and choose a reputable tour provider before embarking on your journey.

5. Can I hike Mount Harvard as a beginner?
Hiking Mount Harvard is considered a challenging endeavor, even for experienced hikers. It is recommended for those with previous hiking experience, good physical fitness, and proper preparation. If you are a beginner, it is advisable to start with less demanding hikes and gradually build up your skills and fitness level before attempting Mount Harvard.

6. Are there any dangers or risks associated with hiking Mount Harvard?
Like any mountainous terrain, Mount Harvard presents certain risks and challenges. These include rapidly changing weather conditions, altitude sickness, steep and rugged trails, and potential wildlife encounters. It is crucial to be well-prepared, carry proper gear, stay informed about weather forecasts, and exercise caution while hiking.

Mount Harvard's enigmatic allure captivates nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Exploring this majestic peak is just the beginning of discovering Colorado's natural wonders. Embark on a journey through the Rocky Mountains, where towering peaks and pristine wilderness await. For those seeking more adventure in the Sawatch Range, Mount Princeton holds its own intriguing secrets. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or simply appreciate nature's beauty, these awe-inspiring landscapes will leave you yearning for more. So, grab your hiking boots and let your curiosity guide you through the enigmatic world of Colorado's mountains.

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