Lake Hartenstein is within an easy distance from downtown Buena Vista and is accessed by the Denny Creek Trailhead, one of the major entry points of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. This trailhead leads not only to Lake Hartenstein but also to Mount Yale, Browns Pass and Kroenke Lake.
Named for turn of the century Buena Vista Lawyer, George K. Hartenstein, Hartenstein Lake sits on a high basin just below treeline. The hike to the lake climbs steadily and sometimes steeply through pine and aspen forests and small open meadows.
It’s a moderate to difficult trek that’s 5.8 miles out and back with 1,750 feet of elevation gain. You cross several streams and pass some beautiful overlooks on the way to the lake.
Unfortunately, I ran into scores of people along the way. There were so many people camping around the lake that you had to walk through campsites to continue on the trail. Not a lot of solitude on this hike. 😉