Colorado’s Best Fourteeners for Alpine Hiking Adventures This Summer

Eighty million several years right after continental plates collided and compelled the Rocky Mountains skyward, the Chinese ruler Shun began earning ritualized ascents of compact mountains all over his kingdom. In the course of this Xia Dynasty four,000 several years in the past, many disciples emulated their emperor and unknowingly launched peak bagging to the planet.

Rapid-ahead many millennia—more specifically to 1923—when Colorado mountaineers Bill Ervin and Carl Blaurock followed Shun’s lead by starting to be the initially to climb all fifty four Colorado peaks bigger than fourteen,000 feet. In 2020 on your own, Golden, CO-primarily based nonprofit Colorado Fourteener Initiative (minimizing environmental impacts via education and trail making) estimates that 300,000 ‘fourteener’ devotees will attempt to “bag a ‘teener.”

While each individual hiker, climber, or mountain runner has their favorites, and any “best of” listing will be hotly disputed, the pursuing peaks are selected—given the large impacts and erosion induced by overcrowding—for the most sustainable trails, from all various mountain ranges throughout the state, and with reasonably solid rock amid a assortment of mountains dangerously loose-rocked.

The Diamond Face of Longs Peak.
The Diamond Confront of Longs Peak. Tobin Akehurst / Shutterstock

Longs Peak

fourteen,259 feet substantial five,one hundred-foot climb in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Circling all over the imposing east-experience verticality of the “Diamond” sought right after by major-wall climbers, Longs’ “walk-up” Keyhole route is however viewed as amongst the 10 most difficult fourteener hikes. As a Entrance Array peak that dominates the skyline over the Denver megalopolis, and the only fourteener amid a countrywide park, Longs is the most available and one particular of the most preferred (right after Quandary and Bierstadt), tried by about twenty,000 hikers a calendar year. Caveat emptor: With 67 fatalities, this is the state’s most harmful mountain, thanks to its steepness and miles of publicity to relentless wind and cold. Soon after the initially five.five miles of properly-marked trail, the cakewalk finishes program on becoming a member of a stop-and-go, scrambling cue up the last 1.25 miles to the broad summit.

Huron Peak

fourteen,010 feet 3,five hundred-foot climb close to deserted mining city of Winfield.

Fourteeners Mount Elbert hiking crowds.
A line of hikers put together to make late early morning summits of Colorado’s Mount Elbert (fourteen,439 feet) in early August 2020. Jon Waterman/Ecoflight

Despite the fact that most sign up for the mamba traces up neighboring Mount Elbert (proven over) to bag the best in the state, Huron Peak, the fifty threerd best, has the most amazing sights in the Sawatch Array.

Huron Peak trail hiking Colorado Fourteeners
Initially light together the Huron Peak trail. Brian Wolski / Shutterstock

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a reasonably small 3.25 miles up a attractive and properly maintained trail astride the northwest ridge, amid the best focus of whistling pikas (keep puppies leashed) wherever on the fourteeners. From the summit (view beneath), lush valleys drop away in a few directions, no cost of any streets or towns, and you just can’t support but ogle the abrupt spires of Ice Mountain and the a few Apostles—relatively untouched ‘thirteeners.’

Colorado Fourteener Summit Huron Peak
From the summit of Huron Peak – fourteen,003 feet. Brian Wolski / Shutterstock

Castle Peak

fourteen,279 feet 1,five hundred-foot climb close to Ashcroft.

Castle Creek Colorado fall foliage hiking.
The view up from Castle Creek via the foliage a Colorado drop. Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

As the simplest peak in the Elk Mountains, Castle Peak also avoids the loose rock and crowds identified on the nearby Maroon Bells and Capitol Peak. With a substantial clearance, four-wheel-drive rig, you can make small work of the unrelenting highway and bump up into Montezuma Basin, along with an deserted silver mine at 12,800 feet. From listed here, it’s barely two miles to the prime. Despite the fact that most effective performed as an previously summertime climb up snowfields to stay away from the scree, when on the northeast ridge it’s a pleasurable scramble with outstanding sights toward Aspen. From the prime, numerous climbers proceed scrambling down the reverse ridge and up the neighboring Conundrum Peak (fourteen,064 feet) for a doubleheader.

Crestone Needle

fourteen,203 feet four,400-foot climb close to Crestone.

Sunrise in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains below Crestone Needle
Sunrise in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains beneath Crestone Needle. Brian Wolski / Shutterstock

As one particular of the most hard fourteeners, Crestone Needle beckons in Tolkienesque grandeur in the Sangre de Christo Mountains over the otherworldly Wonderful Sand Dunes National Park. For a overall of six miles, the simplest route passes South Colony Lakes up a cairned trail to the 12,800-foot saddle between Broken Hand Peak and the Needle. The south experience climb makes use of steep gullies, laced with pleasingly solid conglomerate-rock knob retains with heaps of publicity beneath your feet. Route-finding skills are required. If Crestone Needle on your own appears to be a breeze, proceed the traverse with a rappel above to Crestone Peak (fourteen,294 feet).

Windom Peak

fourteen,082 feet 6,000-foot climb close to Silverton.

Chicago Basin From the Summit of Windom Peak
Chicago Basin From the Summit of Windom Peak. Nicholas Courtney / Shutterstock

The pleasures of the distant Windom Peak in the San Juan Mountains include things like riding the narrow-gauge prepare down from Silverton, debarking at the Needleton trailhead whistlestop, and backpacking six miles up to your Chicago Basin basecamp—studded with wildflowers and grazing mountain goats. As the simplest peak amid two other fourteeners (Sunlight and Eolus offer you a triple-header), the properly-maintained trail up Windom’s west ridge offers an esthetic last scramble to one particular of the most distant fourteener summits, a 19-mile stroll from the nearest highway, with an expansive panorama.

Chicago Basin Windom Peak hiking 14ers
The scenic San Juan Mountains approach up to the wild Chicago Basin. Jon Waterman


— Jon Waterman penned the forthcoming aspect “End of the Everglades?” for MJ’s Sept/Oct concern, on newsstand Aug. 28, and is the writer of Atlas of the National Parks (National Geographic Books, 2019).

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