TURNER PEAK OVERVIEW
As a close companion of Mount Yale, Turner Peak at 13,232' provides another commanding view of Colorado's Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and the other peaks of the Sawatch Range and several of Colorado's other distant ranges. It sits just above Hartenstein Lake and can provide for a fun scramble for families in conjunction with an overnight camping trip to the lake.
There are no trails to the top of Turner Peak, but route finding is quite simple and the approach is pretty direct. Departing from Hartenstein Lake, one can approach either from the south end of the lake or the northwest corner of the lake. Once clear of the trees, the rest of either route can be seen. The last few hundred feet are an easy class 3 scramble over brown and pink granite boulders, with an occasional small patch of alpine wildflowers. Ascending from the north, which is the obvious route, don't be fooled by what appears to be the summit above you. You'll pass several of these before reaching the top. The south side of the peak drops off abruptly.
DENNY CREEK TRAIL
The Denny Creek Trailhead (sometimes refered to as the Mount Yale Trailhead) is reached by turning west at the only stop light in Buena Vista and following Chaffee County 306 (Cottonwood Pass Road) for 11 miles to the Collegiate Peaks Campground and then another mile to the Denny Creek Trailhead on the right. The road is paved as is the parking area. Plenty of parking is available and it is well signed. An outhouse is also provided to take care of any last minute business before you start. Cottonwood pass road is open in winter to the trailhead.
Your hike to Hartenstein Lake is three miles. The trail enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness just above the parking area, and is easy to follow. Meandering through stands of aspen and pine with an occasional meadow thrown in, there is enough variety to make it a pleasurable hike. The trail also varies between level and uphill. About 2/3 of the way up, those approaching Mount Yale will turn off to the east, while you will continue up and to the northwest. Watch for the Hartenstein Lake Trail to break off to the west, cross the stream, and continue on an easy trail to Hartenstein Lake. Plenty of good campsites are available around the lake, which is fishable for brook and cutthroat trout.
CLIMBING THE PEAK
Depending on where you camp, you can start from the southern tip of the lake or the northwest corner.
From the south, head straight south into the trees and uphill, turning west and following the obvious ridge to the plateu below the east flank of the Peak above the lake. From there you can see the rest of the route. Head for the saddle to the north of the peak, then turn south and scramble up the ridge to the summit.
From the northwest corner of the lake, bushwack briefly through trees and brush heading to the north of the cliffband that can be seen directly west of the lake. After ascending above this cliffband around it's north end, traverse to the south just above it, then head up into the saddle that is just north of Turner Peak and then scramble up to it's summit.