The Five Easiest Fourteeners in Colorado

The Five Easiest Fourteeners in Colorado
A fourteener is a mountain that is 14,000 or more feet high. Colorado boasts 58 of these peaks in six different ranges. Many offer highly technical routes such as the difficult rock climbs found on the sheer East Face of 14,259-foot Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, any reasonably fit and healthy person can access the summit of a plethora of fourteeners via easy trails (also called Class 1 hikes). Inexperienced hikers should first seek advice from experts and park rangers on topics such as the proper clothes to wear and what provisions to bring before embarking on their hike or climb. Another great option is to join one of the many available clubs, such as the American Alpine Club or the Colorado Mountain Club. The following five fourteeners are among the easiest in the state and are good starting points for beginners.

Mount Bierstadt

Located in Clear Creek County, not far from Denver, it is part of the Rocky Mountain Range. Considered an easy and easily accessible climb, it is a popular spot in July and August. The most straightforward path to the summit is the 3-mile hike from Guanella Pass, which is just west of the peak. The hike is steep at times, climbing 2,390-plus feet, and cairns mark the route at higher elevations. Depending on the year, hikers may need to bring snowshoes on their excursion for higher elevations.

To get to Bierstadt, take I-70 west from Denver to the Georgetown exit 228, then follow the signs to Guanella Pass. Take Guanella Pass Road, which is an easily passable but bumpy dirt road, 11 miles to the top of the pass. The trail head is marked clearly on the left.

Quandary Peak

At 14,265 feet, Quandary Peak is Colorado’s 13th-highest fourteener. It’s located in the Tenmile Range in Summit County, just 6 miles from Breckenridge. Though not technical, the trail to the summit is long and steep. Don’t come from low elevations and expect to breeze up the mountain. Be fit and acclimated for a round trip of 6 miles, including 3 miles that ascend a steady 3,100 feet. Hikers will find some great views at the top of the rocky summit, including Mt. Lincoln to the northeast and the Blue Lakes, which lie at the bottom of the peak. And, if lucky, they might see browsing mountain goats along the way.

To get to Quandary from Breckenridge, head south on Highway 9 for 7.5 miles to the last traffic light. Turn right on Blue Lakes Road (No. 850). In .1 mile, turn right again on McCullough Road (No 851). Go 1.1 miles, and the trail head is on the right.

Mount Torreys and Grays Peak

Though you can do Grays Peak and Mount Torreys separately, they are so close to each other and moderate that you might as well try both in one day if you are fit and healthy. These peaks lie in the Southern Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide, and they are just 40 miles west of Denver on I-70. Thus, they see thousands of ascents a year, including hundreds in one day. If you want a wilderness experience, these peaks shouldn’t be your top choice. However, if you want to summit two easy fourteeners in one day and experience some stunning views, these are still an excellent choice. This 9-mile round trip has about 3,000 feet of vertical ascent. It starts at the Stevens Gulch Trailhead.

To get there, take I-70 east out of Silverthorne. Take exit 221 at Bakerville. Turn right off the exit onto a dirt road. Ascend switchbacks for 3 miles, and the trail will be on the west side of the road across a small creek. (Note: You can also bypass the summit of Grays by heading directly to the Grays-Torreys saddle.)

Mount Massive

Mount Massive, at 14,421 feet and part of the Sawatch Range, is the second-highest fourteener in Colorado, but it also has some relatively easy hikes to the summit, including the Main Range Trail to Mount Massive Trail. On the other hand, this round-trip hike is 13.6 miles and ascends 4,000 vertical feet of terrain, so be prepared for a long, steady day. Mount Massive offers some worthy terrain features for exploring, including a 3-mile ridge that has five summits all above 14,000 feet.

To get to Mount Massive, take I-70 west from Denver to exit 195 at Leadville. Go south for 3.6 miles on CO91, which merges into U.S.-24. Take a right on Highway 300. Go .8 miles and then take a left on Lake County 11. Go 1.8 miles and then turn right onto a dirt road marked for Halfmoon Creek. Pass the campground at Mile 5, and then at Mile 7 you will reach the well-marked Main Range trail head.

Article Written By Lizzy Scully

Lizzy Scully is a senior contributing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine and the executive director of the nonprofit Girls Education International. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of Utah and Master of Science in journalism from Utah State University.

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