Mount Bierstadt is a great 14'er to get you started on. Enjoy amazing views of wildflowers and other Front Range 14'ers. 

If you’re ready to lose your 14er virginity, Mount Bierstadt holds a reputation for a great “starter” 14er. Of course, experienced climbers will enjoy this (relatively speaking) easy mountain as well. Besides the joy of the hike itself, Bierstadt is a stunning wildflower hike in July and August. Thanks to an expansive valley floor, views of the surrounding peaks (including other Front Range 14ers Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, Mt. Evans) and lush valley are a constant source of eye candy as well.

Part of Bierstadt’s popularity derives from its easy access from Denver. The trailhead is about 1 hour, 15 minutes from Denver on all paved roads.

This Class 2 mountain tops out at 14,060 feet. The trailhead sits at 11,600 feet and dips down before going up, for an elevation gain of about 2850 feet. The hike is 7 miles round-trip.

The hike starts out easy, dipping down from the parking lot into the wet, marshy valley floor. Here you’ll pass a small, crystalline lake, and a little further on, a creek. In flower season, you’ll also enjoy quite a few flowers near the trailhead.

On the upslope, you’ll pass through a shrubby area (there are few, if any, trees in the area) where you may catch sight of little critters and songbirds. Peer into the shrubbery—you may find a hidden columbine or two!

Once you pass the shrubs, you are above the tree line…and this is the most beautiful part of the hike! In flower season, the mountainside is carpeted with a variety of wildflowers. The higher you get, the more of the surrounding peaks you can see. Torreys Peak (14,267 feet) is the most prominently visible mountain.

Nearing the top, the terrain becomes trickier to navigate. It’s both steeper and stonier with frequent switchbacks, and most hikers take the opportunity for a respite on the rock outcroppings. As you near the summit, Bierstadt earns its Class 2 rating by becoming a series of rocks and boulders to navigate. Wearing a pair of gloves will keep your hands from getting skinned up by the rough rock. Enjoy the view of neighboring 14er, Mount Evans, and the Front Range from the summit!

Good news: it’s all downhill from here. On your way down, take your time to enjoy the scenery. I found that as the day progressed, more wildflowers showed themselves, making the views even better going down than going up.

Mount Evans lies to the east via The Sawtooth. This is a Class 3 scramble and should only be attempted by experienced climbers. The Sawtooth is NOT dog or child friendly.

Tips:

  • No 14er is “easy,” though some are easier than others. Proper physical conditioning, gear, food and water are critical to your enjoyment and success. Do your research and be prepared.
  • This is a popular trail; if you are looking for solitude, this may not be the hike for you! However, if you arrive early (by 7:00 am), you will avoid most of the crowding.
  • Afternoon thunderstorms are common in Colorado and this hike is exposed. To avoid being caught in a dangerous weather situation, plan to finish your hike by early afternoon.
  • Hiking on the weekend? Plan for delays on westbound I-70 due to construction at Idaho Springs and heavy traffic.
Directions:

NOTE: Guanella Pass is closed in winter.

From I-70, take Exit 228 (Georgetown). Turn left on 15th St; at the roundabout, take the first exit onto Argentine St. Follow the signs for Guanella Pass. (Left onto 6th St; Right onto Rose St; Left onto 2nd St; continue onto Guanella Pass Rd.) Continue for 6.9 miles to Guanella Pass Summit. Park in the parking area on your left.

Pack List

  • Plenty of food and water
  • Gloves
  • Light jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat with visor or brim
  • Camera
Show More
RT Distance 7 Miles
Elevation Gain 2850 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Mount Bierstadt

So much fun! Two of my friends and I did it with our dogs! Really easy!

Try to avoid the crowds

Hiking Bierstadt is an accessible and beautiful 14er on a nice day. Be sure to get an early start to avoid any afternoon thunderstorms. Also shoot for a weekday, where the crowds will be more reasonable. On a a weekend the trail can see up to 1000 visitors, which can diminish the experience. Keep your eyes out for marmots and pikas near the top!

Still my favorite 14er

After a few 14ers under my belt Mt Bierstadt is still holding strong as my favorite. I love that there are different sections that break up the hike. The wildlife and wildflowers were amazing as well.


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