Hiking Colorado’s 14ers: Ultimate Guide For 2022

Colorado is home to 53 mountains with summits that reach over 14,000 feet. Colloquially referred to as fourteeners, these peaks promise great views, challenging adventures, and a whole lot of walking. Whether you want to bag all 53 or just see what the state has to offer, here is an ultimate guide to hiking Colorado’s fourteeners.

Table of Contents

When to Hike 14ers in Colorado

The fourteener season depends on winter snowpack and conditions. Though all 14ers can have snow year-round, in general, most trails are dry by late June and early July. Shorter days, harsher weather and lower temperatures come around early October, marking an end to the summer 14er season. If you are looking for a chilly adventure, some 14ers like Quandary Peak and Mt. Sherman can make for exciting winter ascents. You can learn more about snow hiking here!

Timing your hike depends on several factors including the mileage and elevation of the trail, your personal fitness and acclimation level, and the technical difficulty (learn more about this under the section “The Rating System”). To avoid summer thunderstorms, the rule of thumb for Rocky Mountain fourteeners is to summit by midday and return to the valley by early afternoon. Many fourteeners require “alpine starts,” or waking up before the sun rises. If you are a certified anti-morning person, don’t stress too much; I promise the views are worth it!

Hiking Colorado 14ers: Ultimate Guide

Gear & Supplies

Hiking a fourteener requires preparation and some specific equipment. Though your gear will depend on the trail and time of year, here is a general checklist to get you started. Click the hyperlinks below for some of our gear recommendations!

Main Gear List:

Curious about this hiking gear checklist, but want something more in-depth? Check out our Hiking Gear Checklist.

Winter Hiking (Additional) Gear List:

In addition to avalanche and snow gear, you’re going to need some different clothes! Here are some Winter Hiking Outfit Ideas.

How to Train

Hiking a Colorado fourteener is no simple task. A well-thought-out exercise regimen will prepare your body and increase your chances of summiting. Here are some recommendations on how to train for hiking a fourteener:

  1. Plan Ahead: No amount of running uphill will prepare you if you just started doing it the day before your hike! Depending on your fitness, experience, and acclimation, plan on starting your training around 3 months before your adventure.
  2. Cardio vs. Weight Lifting: Training for a fourteener, like many sports, requires a combination of cardio and strength training. Aerobic workouts, like running and biking, will improve your body’s ability at transferring oxygen to your tired muscles. Activities that build your aerobic index is critical before high altitude missions like hiking a fourteener. I recommend frequent, moderate intensity exercise at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. To prepare your muscles for steep trails and lots of steps, incorporate around 3 days of strength training to your workout routine. Here are some exercise and fitness tips from Backpacker magazine to get in shape for hiking.
  3. Stay Loose: All this training can put a strain on your muscles. Stretching and rest days are crucial for muscle recovery and growth. Try throwing in some mindfulness and meditation in your training routine to strengthen your physical and mental health. Check out your local yoga studio for some classes! If you prefer to stay home, check out free classes on Youtube from channels like Yoga with Adriene.
  4. Know and Grow Your VO2 Max: Your VO2 max is your maximal oxygen uptake – the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise. VO2 max is a great indicator for your cardiovascular fitness level and/or aerobic endurance. You can measure your VO2 max with a fitness tracker or using an online VO2 calculator. Any kind of challenging, aerobic activity will increase your VO2 max. Try adding short bursts of intense intervals to your workout, where you reach around 85 percent of your maximum heartrate for ten to twenty minutes. No worries if you find yourself winded after these exercises! Remember that training is a process, respect your body and its limits, and drink lots of water! You can learn more about how to measure and improve your VO2 max here.
  5. Train up High: The summit of a fourteener is at or more than 2.5 miles high. So, not only are you hiking a ton but you are doing it with a lot less oxygen! To acclimate your body and prevent altitude sickness, bring your training regimen to the hills.
  6. Train with Weight: Some fourteeners are multi-day adventures. If you plan to carry a heavy pack, practice hiking with extra weight. I like to stuff my backpack with bottles and/or milk jugs filled with water, and take to my local trails.
  7. Lengthen Training Sessions: No matter your fitness level (even if you are Kyle Richardson), a fourteener will take you more than a few hours to summit. To prepare your body for a long day (or days!), extend the duration of your training sessions. Dedicating a weekend or day to a big hike is a great way to get started.

Safety Tips

Each year, there are a few casualties on Colorado’s fourteeners. Some of the deadliest summits, like Longs Peak, happen to be the most popular. Here are some safety tips when hiking a fourteener:

  • Pick a Partner: Though experienced hikers can safely summit a fourteener on their own, make sure to bring a partner if you are beginner. A hiking buddy can help if you get hurt or lost. When choosing a fourteener to hike, keep in mind that a group is only as fast as its slowest member. Make sure that everyone is comfortable with the length and technical difficulty.
  • Choose Wisely and Know Your Limit: Colorado’s fourteeners vary in difficulty, so make sure you understand the different classes before choosing a fourteener. Scroll down a little further to learn about the hiking rating system!
  • Understand Rocky Mountain terrain: This mountain range lives up to its name – erosion is slowly disintegrating every mountain, making rock fall a frequent occurance and couloirs a hazardous obstacle. Ask the locals about rockfall occurence, and keep safe by staying present and wearing a climbing helmet.
  • Pick the right time: Prevent getting caught in dangerous weather by choosing to hike on the right day and time of year. Websites like Mountain Forecast provide important temperature, storm, and wind speed information on all of Colorado’s fourteeners.
  • Have the courage to turn around: A popular saying in the Rocky Mountains is if you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes. Know the signs of storm formation (e.g., dark clouds) and turn around if you have not reached the summit by noon. Lightning remains a significant hazard when hiking fourteeners, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Do not take shortcuts: Maybe a friend of a friend overheard an REI employee talk about a shortcut on a popular fourteener. Although they may save you some time, shortcuts contribute to erosion and increase the likelihood of getting lost. They are not worth it, so don’t be tempted.
  • Wear the right clothing: Choosing the proper clothing will keep you warm, dry, and safe from health complications like hypothermia. If you are on a budget or living a more sustainable lifestyle, check out REI’s used gear or Patagonia’s Worn Wear for cheaper, high quality outdoor clothing.
  • Bring the right gear: Double check your gear list and don’t be stingy! The right equipment can save your life in case of rockfall or an avalanche. Check out eBay or a military surplus store for more affordable deals.
  • Protect yourself from strong UV rays: Ultraviolet rays are stronger and more intense at higher elevations. Regardless of the cloud cover, everyone should wear sunscreen, long layers, and a hat. Keep your eyes protected with UV-protected sunglasses and/or goggles.
  • Know the signs of altitude sickness: Mild symptoms of altitude sickness can feel like a hangover – dizziness, nausea, and headaches. While these can be solved with rest and hydration, more severe symptoms like vomiting, confusion, and difficulty walking should be addressed immediately. Hydrate and return to lower elevation as safely as you can. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
  • Know what to do in case you encounter a wild animal: Click here for our wildlife safety tips.
  • Do not bother wildlife: Fourteeners are blessed with great wildlife. Just as a wild animal can threaten a hiker’s safety, a hiker can threaten a wild animal. Never feed or approach wildlife, doing so can desensitize them to humans and put them in danger. In Colorado, feeding big game animals like elk and mountain goats is illegal. Learn more about the Colorado Law here.
  • Enjoy the view and stay present: Taking pictures is a great way to preserve your memories and share them with friends, but may distract you from present hazards.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace created 7 principles to follow to minimize your impact when exploring the wilderness.

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare to improve safety and prevent resource waste.
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces to minimize erosion and ecosystem damage.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly and take your trash with you!
  4. Leave What You Find (including that really pretty rock).
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts and help prevent forest fires.
  6. Respect Wildlife and keep your distance.
  7. Be Considerate of Others and do not be a creep!

The Rating System

Fourteeners are assigned difficulty ratings based on the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS). The system organizes difficulty by “classes,” which range from 1 to 5.

Class 1: Easy hiking on a typically well-maintained trail that leads all the way to the summit.
Class 2: Most of Colorado’s fourteeners are class 2 and involve scrambling over rocks, boulders, and/or scree. These are normally of limited exposure where falls are likely not serious or deadly. However, they will take longer than a class 1 hike.
Class 3: There is a significant increase in risk between class 2 and class 3 fourteeners (e.g., steeper terrain and greater fall potential). Class 3 fourteeners require advanced scrambling, where you use your hands for most of the hike.
Class 4: These involve climbing where handholds and footholds are required for upward or downward progress. Falls can be fatal, so a rope is sometimes used on Class 4 routes. The terrain is often steep and dangerous.

Choosing Your First Fourteener

Class 1 Fourteeners

Handies Peak – Southwest Slopes Route

Summit: 14,270 feet
Start: 11,600 feet
Total Gain: 2,500 feet
Round-Trip Length: 5.5 miles
Local Town(s): Ouray, Lake City, Silverton, Telluride

Grays Peak – North Slopes Route

Summit: 14,048 feet
Start: 11,280 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 feet
Round-Trip Length: 7.5 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown

Quandary Peak – East Ridge

Summit: 14,265 feet
Start: 10,850 feet
Total Gain: 3,450 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 6.75 miles
Local Town(s): Breckenridge

Mt. Elbert – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,433 feet
Start: 10,040 feet
Total Gain: 4,700 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.50 miles
Local Town(s): Leadville

San Luis Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,014 feet
Start: 10,500 feet
Total Gain: 3,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 13.50 miles
Local Town(s): Creede, Lake City, Gunnison

Pikes Peak – East Slopes

Summit: 14,110 feet
Start: 6,650 feet
Total Gain: 7,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 24.00 miles
Local Town(s): Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City, Canon City, Cripple Creek

Class 2 Fourteeners

Mt. Sherman – Southwest Ridge

Summit: 14,036 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,100 to 3,100 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 5.25 to 10.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Leadville

Mt. Bross – West Slopes

Summit: 14,172 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,250 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 3.25 miles
Local Town(s): Alma

Mt. Cameron – West Ridge

Summit: 14,286 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,250 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 4.75 miles
Local Town(s): Alma

Mt. Lincoln – West Ridge

Summit: 14,386 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 6.00 miles
Local Town(s): Alma

Mt. Bierstadt – West Slopes

Summit: 14,060 feet
Start: 11,669 feet
Total Gain: 2,850 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 7.00 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown

Mt. Democrat – East Slope

Summit: 14,148 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,150 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 4.00 miles
Local Town(s): Fairplay, Alma

Torreys Peak – South Slopes

Summit: 14,267 feet
Start: 11,280 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 7.75 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown

Hurron Peak – Northwest Slopes

Summit: 14,003 feet
Start: 10,560 feet
Total Gain: 3,500 to 3,800 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 6.5 to 10.75 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Leadville

Mt. Bross – Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross

Summit: 14,286 feet
Start: 12,000 feet
Total Gain: 3,700 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 7.50 miles
Local Town(s): Alma

Grays Peak – Grays and Torreys

Summit: 14,270 feet
Start: 11,280 feet
Total Gain: 3,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 8.25 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown, Idaho Springs

Mt. Princeton – East Slopes

Summit: 14,197 feet
Start: 8,900 feet
Total Gain: 3,200 to 5,400 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 6.5 to 13.25 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida

Culebra Peak – Northwest Ridge

Summit: 14,047 feet
Start: 11,240 feet
Total Gain: 2,700 to 5,450 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 5 to 14 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): San Luis

Redcloud Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,024 feet
Start: 10,400 feet
Total Gain: 3,700 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.00 miles
Local Town(s): Ouray, Lake City, Silverton, Telluride

Mt. Evans – West Ridge from Summit Lake

Summit: 14,364 feet
Start: 12,850 feet
Total Gain: 2,000 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 5.50 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Evergreen

Mt. Belford – Northwest Rdige

Summit: 14,197 feet
Start: 9,650 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 8.00 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Leadville, Vicksburg (a ghostown!)

Uncompahgre Peak – South Ridge

Summit: 14,309 feet
Start: 11,400 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 to 5,505 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 7.50 to 15.50 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Lake City, Ouray

Mt. Shavano – East Slopes

Summit: 14,229 feet
Start: 4,600 feet
Total Gain: 4,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.00 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

Humbolt Peak – West Ridge

Summit: 14,064 feet
Start: 9,950 feet
Total Gain: 4,200 to 5,350 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 11.00 to 16.50 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Westcliffe

Mt. Columbia – West Slopes

Summit: 14,073 feet
Start: 9,900 feet
Total Gain: 4,250 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 12.00 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

Mt. Yale – Southwest Slopes

Summit: 14,196 feet
Start: 9,900 feet
Total Gain: 4,300 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.50 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

La Plata Peak – Northwest Ridge

Summit: 14,336 feet
Start: 10,000 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.25 miles
Local Town(s): Leadville, Buena Vista

Sunshine Peak – Via Redcloud Peak

Summit: 14,001 feet
Start: 10,400 feet
Total Gain: 4,800 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 12.25 miles
Local Town(s): Silverton, lake City

Missouri Mountain – Northwest Ridge

Summit: 14,067 feet
Start: 9,650 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 10.50 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

Mt. Massive – East Slopes

Summit: 14,421 feet
Start: 10,080 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 14.50 miles
Local Town(s): Leadville

Mt. Oxford – Via Mt. Belford

Summit: 14,153 feet
Start: 9,650 feet
Total Gain: 5,800 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 11 to 14 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Leadville, Vicksburg (a ghost town!)

Tabeguache Peak – Mt. Shavano

Summit: 14,155 feet
Start: 9,750 feet
Total Gain: 5,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 11.00 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

Mt. Antero – West Slopes

Summit: 14,269 feet
Start: 9,400 feet
Total Gain: 2,400 to 5,200 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 7 to 15.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville, Fairplay

Mt. Harvard – South slopes

Summit: 14,420 feet
Start: 4,600 feet
Total Gain: 4,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 14.00 miles
Local Town(s): Buena Vista

Mount of the Holy Cross – North Ridge

Summit: 14,005 feet
Start: 10,320 feet
Total Gain: 5,600 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 12.00 miles
Local Town(s): Vail

More Difficult Class 2 Fourteeners

Conundrum Peak – South Ridge

Summit: 14,060 feet
Start: 9,800 feet
Total Gain: 2,900 to 4,400 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 7 to 13.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Aspen

Castle Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,265 feet
Start: 9,800 feet
Total Gain: 3,100 to 4,600 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 7 to 13.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Crested Butte, Aspen

Windom Peak – West Ridge

Summit: 14,082 feet
Start: 11,100 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 to 6,000 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 5 to 17 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Durango

Ellingwood Point – South Face

Summit: 14,042 feet
Start: 6,200 feet
Total Gain: 2,450 to 6,200 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 6 to 17 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Alamosa

Challenger Point – North Slope

Summit: 14,081 feet
Start: 8,850 feet
Total Gain: 2,600 to 5,400 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 4 to 13.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Crestone

Blanca Peak – Northwest Ridge

Summit: 14,345 feet
Start: 8,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,700 to 6,500 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 6 to 17 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Alamosa, Walsenburg, La Veta, Gardner, Cuchara

Easy Class 3 Fourteeners

Mt. Sneffels – South Slopes

Summit: 14,150 feet
Start: 11,350 feet
Total Gain: 1,700 to 3,400 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 2.50 to 7.75 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Telluride

Mt. Lindsey – Northwest Gully

Summit: 14,042 feet
Start: 10,700 feet
Total Gain: 3,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 8.25 miles
Local Town(s): Gardner

Kit Carson Peak – Via Challenger Point

Summit: 14,165 feet
Start: 8,850 feet
Total Gain: 850 to 6,250 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 1.5 to 15 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Crestone

Class 3 Fourteeners

Wetterhorn Peak – Southeast Ridge

Summit: 14,015 feet
Start: 10,800 feet
Total Gain: 3,300 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 7.00 miles
Local Town(s): Lake City, Ouray

Mt. Bierstadt – Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Evans (Combination Route)

Summit: 14,264 feet
Start: 11,669 feet
Total Gain: 3,900 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 10.25 miles
Local Town(s): Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Evergreen

Longs Peak – Keyhole Route

Summit: 14,225 feet
Start: 9,400 feet
Total Gain: 5,100 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 14.50 miles
Local Town(s): Estes Park

Wilson Peak – Southwest Ridge

Summit: 14,017 feet
Start: 10,350 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 to 5,000 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 7 to 16 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Ouray, Telluride, Rico

North Eolus – South Ridge

Summit: 14,039 feet
Start: 13,850 feet
Total Gain: 200 to 6,000 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 0.20 to 16.75 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Ouray

Mt. Eolus – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,083 feet
Start: 11,100 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 to 6,100 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 5 to 17 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Ouray

El Diente Peak – North Slopes

Summit: 14,159 feet
Start: 9,350 feet
Total Gain: 2,200 to 5,500 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 3 to 15 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Rico

Crestone Peak – South Face

Summit: 14,294 feet
Start: 9,900 feet
Total Gain: 5,700 to 6,850 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 14 to 20 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Crestone

Maroon Peak – South Ridge

Summit: 14,156 feet
Start: 9,590 feet
Total Gain: 4,800 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 12.0 miles
Local Town(s): Aspen

Crestone Needle – South Face

Summit: 14,197 feet
Start: 9,900 feet
Total Gain: 4,400 to 5,550 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 12 to 18 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Crestone

Snowmass Mountain – East Slopes

Summit: 14,092 feet
Start: 9,900 feet
Total Gain: 5,800 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 22.0 miles
Local Town(s): Snowmass

Class 4 Fourteeners

North Maroon Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,014 feet
Start: 9,590 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 9.25 miles
Local Town(s): Aspen

Pyramid Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,018 feet
Start: 9,600 feet
Total Gain: 4,500 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 8.25 miles
Local Town(s): Aspen

Mt. Wilson – North Slope

Summit: 14,246 feet
Start: 9,350 feet
Total Gain: 2,000 to 5,300 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 2.25 to 6.5 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Ouray, Telluride, Rico

Sunlight Peak – South Face

Summit: 14,059 feet
Start: 11,100 feet
Total Gain: 3,000 to 6,000 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 5 to 17 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Silverton, Ouray

Little Bear Peak – West Ridge and Southwest Face

Summit: 14,037 feet
Start: 8,000 feet
Total Gain: 2,300 to 6,200 feet (depending on start)
Roud-Trip Length: 3.50 to 14 miles (depending on start)
Local Town(s): Alamosa, Fort Garland

Capitol Peak – Northeast Ridge

Summit: 14,130 feet
Start: 9,450 feet
Total Gain: 5,300 feet
Roud-Trip Length: 17.0 miles
Local Town(s): Snowmass, Aspen, Carbondale

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