- 7 miles round trip (out & back)
- Elevation gain: 2,850 feet
- 4-6 hours
- Very strenuous
- Mt. Bierstadt elevation: 14,060 ft
- The most accessible 14er to Denver
- Very hard compared to a regular hike, fairly easy compared to other 14ers
Distance from Denver: 1 hour 15 minutes
If you’re wanting to cross your first 14er off your belt, this is the best place to do so and dip your feet into the challenging task of hiking up to the top of a mountain. Its location only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Denver and the only 3.5 mile journey to the top makes it a good starting point.
Begin the hike at Guanella Pass Trailhead off Guanella Pass Road. There is some parking directly in front of the trailhead and more in a larger lot across the street. For this or any 14er, you’ll want to plan to reach the top of the mountain by 11am or noon to avoid dangerous lightning – depending on your stamina & speed, you should begin this hike by 6-8am.
The beginning of the hike is fairly flat and takes you through a green valley next to a small lake and over the Scott Gomer Creek. Then the real challenge begins as you reach the base of Mt. Bierstadt and begin the extremely strenuous journey to the top. You’ll first walk through a section of brush before you’re above treeline with only open fields and rocks beside you. Eventually you’ll reach a point at which you’ll have to scramble on your hands & knees up rocks to reach the very top. Once there, breathe a sigh of relief, enjoy a snack, and savor the views before the much quicker and more pleasant journey back downhill.
Tip: It’s popular to take photos with a sign showing the name of the 14er and the elevation so either come prepared with your own or (if you aren’t shy) kindly ask other hikers if you can borrow theirs for a photo.