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Buena Vista, Colorado

Hike Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford

11 Miles Total - 5800 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Katie Lyons

This is a great hiking route for anybody looking to bag two 14ers in one day.

Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford are two of Colorado's 14ers. A 14er is any mountain whose peak elevation is above 14,000 feet. A hike up one of these mountains may seem intimidating, but Belford and Oxford are two great choices for beginning 14er  hikers to start off with. 

The route starts at the Missouri Gulch trailhead, about 20 miles outside Buena Vista, Colorado. Be sure to arrive early as parking is limited and the lot can fill up quickly, especially on a summer weekend. It's a good idea to start 14er hikes early in the day because they can take a long time, and getting off the peak by late morning or early afternoon is necessary due to the frequently present danger of thunderstorms. 

The trail is well defined and easy to follow throughout the first part of the hike. You'll follow several switchbacks through dense pine forests. At about 1.5 miles in (about 10,800' elevation) you'll cross Missouri Creek to your left. This creek crossing is easy to miss. Look for an area where several logs are piled up and this is where you will cross. (If you don't cross here, the trail will become more ambiguous and densely vegetated; this should serve as a cue to turn around and cross in the correct spot). Continue up the trail for about another half mile and you'll come across the remnants of an old shack. This is just before you will break free from the forest section and head into an alpine meadow. If you're hiking in late June or early July, be prepared to see thousands of wildflowers filling this meadow. In addition to floral life, you can also expect to see many marmots and pika, and potentially a mountain goat if you're lucky! About half a mile into the meadow, you'll come to a trail fork. The fork is marked and you'll follow the path for Belford and Oxford to the left.

As you continue through this meadow, you'll see Mt. Belford rising up to the South. The visible trail on the mountainside shows the obvious work ahead. As you start the actual climb on Belford, you'll go through a series of switchbacks. The trail is somewhat steep, but not particularly exposed. The switchbacks last about a mile and then the trail flattens out temporarily. The summit of Belford is now visible and you need only follow a few more switchbacks to reach the top. The summit is marked by a geological marker and provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. You'll be able to see Missouri Mountain to the West, Oxford to the East, and many other 14ers in the distance. 

Once you're ready, you can continue your hike to Mt. Oxford, about 1.5 miles away. You'll follow a ridge line slightly steeper and more exposed than the one you took to summit Belford and lose about 500 feet in elevation. Once you reach the saddle of Mt. Oxford you'll be able to see the remaining mile of trail that leads to the summit. Again, you'll follow switchbacks to the top, but the trail is neither particularly steep or exposed. When you reach the summit you'll be greeted with similar view that you had on Belford, but from a slightly different angle.

The Belford/ Oxford trail is an out-and-back trail so technically you will summit three 14ers in one day as you'll make it to the top of Belford twice. The re-summit of Belford is harder than the initial summit as the trail back is steeper and might require some hikers to scramble. This section only lasts about half a mile and then you'll return to the summit. Making your way down is significantly easier than the trip up. At this point you'll be able to appreciate the nature you're surrounded by and take some great pictures of the surrounding scenery. The trail is easy to follow all the way back to the parking lot.

Whether you're a seasoned mountaineer, or a beginning hiker, Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford provide a hike that is both beautiful and challenging. After hiking these two peaks, you'll definitely want to come back and bag some more of Colorado's iconic 14ers.

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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