North Cottonwood Trail


This trail travels west into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and is an easy access for Kroenke Lake and the Horn Fork Basin below Mt. Harvard (14,420 ft)  and Mt. Columbia (14, 073 feet). The hike to Kroenke Lake is especially beautiful during July when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

The North Cottonwood trail travels west for 4.3 miles to Kroenke Lake. The trail has numerous creek crossing and is lush and green with alpine vegetation. Hikers can take the trail west from the North Cottonwood trailhead for approximately 2 miles to the junction with the Bear Lake/Horn Fork basin trail. The trail travels north into the rocky basin below Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia. For detailed route information please visit the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.

At a Glance

Permit Info: Wilderness permits are required. Self-issuing permits are available at trailheads free of charge.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer and Fall
Busiest Season: July
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply within Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. For group size restrictions contact the Salida Ranger District at 719-539-3591.
Closest Towns: Buena Vista, CO
Water: No potable water
Restroom: Yes - not at trailhead
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Salida Ranger District

General Information


There are no universally accessible facilities at this site.


From Buena Vista, travel west on County Road 306 for 2.5 miles to County Road 361. Turn right on this road and travel north for 2.5 miles. You need to watch for the road sign for County Road 365 (North Cottonwood) on the left. The road makes a hard left and travels west from the intersection towards the mountains. Stay on CR 365 for 3.5 miles. The Colorado Trail crosses the road at this point. The road will continue west for 1.4 miles and end at the North Cottonwood trailhead.

General Notes:

Camping is not permitted at the trailhead. Dispersed campsites and pull-outs are located along the road to the trailhead.


Parking is available for 20 vehicles.


Camping & Cabins

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Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is permitted along the road to North Cottonwood. Campers must camp at least 100 feet away from the stream.

NOTE: Motorized dispersed camping is authorized within one vehicle length off of designated Forest Roads. Campers should use care when parking and not damage soils or cause erosion.



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Horse Riding & Camping

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