4 Favorite Mountain Treks

Backcountry athletes everywhere know and love Colorado for its fourteen thousand foot mountains.  Locals and travelers alike gather at the ground levels of these mountains year round to test themselves against the steep rocky trails that traverse to the high summits.  There are fifty-four “14ers” in all that are spread throughout the state and each offer varying levels of challenge and difficulty.  Some peaks require serious planning, climbing skills, and technical know how, while others can be accomplished as a day hike.  This is not to say that the less technical peaks don’t come with risk.  Of course considerations about AMS, the inherent physicality of these hikes, and certainly weather should be made.  With a little forethought, however, first time and novice peak baggers can achieve the awe-inspiring vistas and pleasures that these mountains provide without much hassle.   

 

There are numerous moderate peaks that are a joy to hike.  Here are four favorites. 

 

Mount Bierstadt

Elevation: 14,060

Range: Front Range

Distance From Trailhead to Summit: 3 Miles

Elevation Gain From Trailhead: 2,400 Feet

Bierstadt is a favorite among peak baggers of all levels, since it’s so close to Denver.  The trail that leads to the summit begins its journey across an open valley, which furnishes open and beautiful views of the mountain ahead.  It travels through thick brush, open grassland, and over a rocky creek.  Gradually after the valley is crossed a series of switchbacks begin that sets in motion the gain of altitude.  As the trail climbs, views of the encompassing Front Range begin to open and the peaks of distant mountains become more and more defined.  This really is an awe-inspiring hike.

 

 

Humboldt Peak

Elevation: 14,064

Range: Sangre De Cristo Range

Distance From Trailhead to Summit: 4.25 Miles (or 1.75 from South Colony Lake)

Elevation Gain: 2,400 Feet

From the trailhead the hike up Humboldt Peak is rather long, but it displays a grand tour of the Sangre De Cristo Range and the “Crestones.”  Humboldt is one of the four Crestones and happens to be the least technical of the four.  The trail that travels the distance to the top of Humboldt is an adventure in itself.  It winds through a thick forest, along rocky ridges, above a clear blue mountain lake, and below the towering rocky spires of the other Crestones.  The final climb to the summit, after the trail hits Humboldt, is steep but displays the grand sharp layers of the surrounding mountains as far as you can see.

 

 

Mount Sherman

Elevation: 14,036

Range: Mosquito Range

Distance From Trailhead to Summit: 3 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2,400 Feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Sherman is the least technical of all the 14ers and is a great mountain for a more leisurely summit trek or to start with when first breaking into peak bagging.  This trail begins on a gradual slope that ascends past an old abandoned mine where much of the original equipment and structures still partially stand and, in some cases, lay.  The trail also passes a large pond in one of the more level areas of the trek just before it ascends again to a saddle.  From the saddle, vistas of the surrounding alpine wilderness and South Park valley far below open up.  The trail then follows a moderate yet keen ridgeline to the top where the views open even further.

 

 

Mount Princeton

Elevation: 14,197

Range: Sawatch Range

Distance from Trailhead to Summit: 3 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3,200 Feet

The trek to the summit of Mount Princeton is a true highland hike since most of the trail, even from the start (when starting from the end of the road), is above tree line.  The bulk of this trek is a steady traverse along the side of a nearby mountain that leads up to a saddle between it and Mount Princeton.  The trail supplies shifting and changing views of the distant valley below and the far jagged range on the other side of the valley.  From the saddle this valley seems even further and almost surreal but on the other side an up close, in comparison, scene of neighboring peaks can be enjoyed.  It is from this landing that the final push to the crown of Princeton is made.  The final climb is steep and in some sections can require some scrambling but reaching the pinnacle is well worth the effort.      

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