Hiking Colorado’s 14ers: A Guide to the Most Popular Trails
A Guide to the Most Popular Hikes On the 14ers
There are 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in the state of Colorado. Together, these mountains are known as “the 14ers.” Hiking on the 14ers is often thought of as a rite of passage by outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers.
If you plan to climb one of these mountains, it’s important to understand that some parts of the 14ers are more dangerous to hike than others. Here’s what you need to know about four of the most famous peaks.
Mount Elbert is the highest point in the Rocky Mountains, so conquering this 14er is on every serious hiker’s to-do list. Five trails lead directly to the peak of this mountain. The safest — and most popular — of these trails is found on the Northeast Ridge.
The first part of this hike is relatively easy. The most challenging section begins at roughly 13,400 feet, which is where the path becomes much steeper. Be prepared to deal with an elevation gain of about 500 feet in less than half a mile. Once you make it through this stretch on the trail, it’s smooth sailing for the rest of the trip to the top.
Huron Peak is a great choice for beginners. It’s considered a “non-technical summit,” which means you won’t need climbing skills or special equipment to make it to the top of this mountain.
That doesn’t mean it’s an easy hike, though. From the start to the end, the hike is physically demanding. You will forget all about the burning in your muscles once you catch a glimpse of the Three Apostles, which is a group of three 13,000-foot mountain peaks in the Sawatch Range.
San Luis Peak
San Luis Peak is located in a fairly remote section of the San Juan Mountains, which makes it ideal for hikers who need to clear their minds or reconnect with nature. The panoramic views of the rugged mountaintops, tranquil creeks and blooming wildflowers on this hike are unparalleled. Plus, the path to the top is well-maintained, which makes it easier to navigate.
You can hike this 14er without straying too far from home. Mount Evans is conveniently located less than two hours away from Denver, which makes it one of the most popular spots to hike.
There are several ways to get to the top, but we recommend trying Mount Evans Ridge Trail #51. If you take this path, you will reach the peak of the 13,842-foot Mount Spalding along the way, which means you can conquer two mountains on a single trip. The journey to the top will take you through five different climate zones, so be prepared for the weather to change throughout your hike.
The views on this hike will take your breath away at any hour, but if possible, try to find time for an early morning hike. Seeing the light reflecting off of Summit Lake at sunrise is tough to beat.
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