Colorado is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting over 50 mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation, affectionately known as “14ers.” For those new to hiking or mountaineering, it can be intimidating to choose the best beginner-friendly options. Fear not, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of the easiest 14ers in Colorado for beginners to conquer. These peaks offer a more manageable experience without sacrificing the breathtaking views and sense of accomplishment that come with summiting a 14er.
1- Mount Bierstadt (14,065 feet)
Mount Bierstadt is considered one of the most accessible 14ers in Colorado. Located in the Front Range, it offers a well-defined trail, a relatively short distance of 7 miles round trip, and only 2,850 feet of elevation gain. The trailhead is accessible from Guanella Pass, making it an ideal choice for a day hike from the Denver area.
2- Grays Peak (14,278 feet) and Torreys Peak (14,275 feet)
Grays and Torreys peaks are popular choices for beginners looking to tackle two 14ers in one day. Starting from the Steven’s Gulch Trailhead, the hike up Grays Peak is 8 miles round trip with a 3,000-foot elevation gain. After summiting Grays, a connecting saddle trail leads to Torreys Peak, adding only an extra mile and 560 feet of elevation gain. The Class 2 terrain and well-marked trails make these peaks suitable for novices.
3- Quandary Peak (14,265 feet)
Quandary Peak is a popular beginner-friendly 14er located in the Tenmile Range near Breckenridge. The 6.75-mile round-trip hike from the East Ridge trailhead has a moderate elevation gain of 3,450 feet. Quandary’s Class 1 trail is well-defined, and its relatively gentle slope allows hikers to acclimate to the altitude gradually.
4- Mount Sherman (14,036 feet)
Mount Sherman is another beginner-friendly 14er found in Colorado’s Mosquito Range. The standard route from the Fourmile Creek trailhead is a 5.25-mile round trip with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet. Mount Sherman’s gentle slopes and Class 2 trail make it a great option for first-timers. Be aware that the trailhead may be inaccessible during winter months due to snow.
5- Handies Peak (14,048 feet)
Located in the San Juan Mountains, Handies Peak offers an easier hike with stunning views. The American Basin trailhead provides a 5.5-mile round-trip hike with a 2,500-foot elevation gain. The Class 1 trail is well-defined and relatively gentle, making it a suitable option for beginners.
6- Mount Massive (14,429 feet)
Mount Massive, the second highest peak in Colorado, is a more challenging but still beginner-friendly option. The standard route from the Mount Massive Trailhead is a 14.5-mile round-trip hike with a 4,500-foot elevation gain. Although this Class 2 trail is longer and more strenuous than others on the list, the hike remains manageable for well-prepared beginners.
7- Mount Elbert (14,439 feet)
As the highest peak in Colorado, Mount Elbert is an attractive goal for aspiring mountaineers. The Northeast Ridge route from the North Mount Elbert trailhead is a 9-mile round trip with a 4,700-foot elevation gain. The Class 1 trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, making it a viable option for beginners.
Tackling a 14er in Colorado is an exhilarating experience that offers a tremendous sense of accomplishment and breathtaking views. The seven peaks listed above provide beginner-friendly options that cater to those new to hiking or mountaineering. As you embark on your adventure, it’s crucial to research trail conditions, check the weather forecast, and be prepared with proper gear, food, and water. Additionally, always practice Leave No Trace principles to protect and preserve these majestic mountains for future generations to enjoy.
By starting with the easiest 14ers in Colorado, you can gradually build your skills and confidence, eventually tackling more challenging peaks. Remember to always prioritize safety, respect your own limits, and listen to your body as you acclimate to high-altitude environments. With the right preparation, determination, and respect for the mountains, you’ll be well on your way to conquering these magnificent peaks and creating unforgettable memories in the great outdoors.