• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    13 Miles

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Scenic, remote hike - trail feels truly out in the wilderness. Opportunity to summit 2 of Colorado's 14ers. The total hike is between 11-13 miles depending on which routes you choose. Possibility to camp just off the trail above timberline. A good challenge for even experienced hikers.

You'll being your ascent at the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, which is located a few miles up Chaffee County Road 390, at around 9,600 feet. The trail is very clear and very well maintained, but is steeper than most trails (even quite a few of the 14er trails I've done) right from the get-go. Remember, the round trip length is anywhere from 11-13 miles, so don't burn yourself out too quickly.

Once above tree-line, the trail levels out for about three quarters of a mile, before coming to a fork. At this fork both directions will lead to a 14,000 foot peak, but the most direct way up to Mount Belford is by taking a left at the fork (it's marked clearly as to which way to take). The trail ascends up to a ridge on Belford's Northwest side, and then very quickly and steeply begins the climb up to the summit. After climbing around 2,300 feet up the ridge, the trail crests a false summit, which is a very good spot to take a break before making the final (short) push to the summit. From here, you can continue on to Oxford. If you're feeling pretty spent, you can head back the way you came, or go down a less steep, but longer trail to Elkhead Pass.

To get to Oxford simply hop off the Belford summit, walk Southeast for a quarter mile and descend down to the Belford saddle. The trail to and from Oxford is very obvious and you can see and plan your route up to the summit from the summit of Belford. Be careful on the return trip back to Belford however as the section from the saddle back up to Belford is the steepest and most difficult part of the entire hike.

Once back up from the saddle, you can either choose to go back up to the true Belford summit (only requires 50 more feet of climbing) or you can head down the obvious trail to Elkhead pass on the Southeast side of Belford. The latter is at least a mile or two longer than descending the way you came up Belford, but due to this, it is not nearly as steep, and is a good choice for those with bad knees, or who aren't as sure-footed.

The trail back down Elkhead pass is very obvious and easy to follow, and before long, will meet up with the trail up to Belford at the fork mentioned earlier. After this point, the trail is the exact same as the one taken on the way up, and it is only around 2 miles of hiking below tree-line until you're back at the trailhead!

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes with good grip
  • Day pack or good backpack
  • Sunscreen
  • At least 2 32oz bottles of water (there is a creek all the way up the gulch if you prefer to bring a filter and fill up on the way)
  • Windbreaker/rainshell
  • Jacket warm enough for colder mornings
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Extra socks
  • Protein bars or preferred snacks/meal
  • Any camera gear you might need
Optional:
  • Tent with good rainfly
  • Good sleeping pad
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Any other camping supplies you might need
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Reviews

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This was an awesome way to start the weekend, a long tough hike with incredible views and massive alpine basin. The smaller tundra wildflowers on the slopes of Belford were insane, so much right now, I wish I had started earlier for sunrise! It took me about 2.5 hours to reach Belford, then a nice break, then another hour or so to Oxford.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Jeff Richards Explorer

Addicted to the mountains and in love with all they offer.

 Boulder, CO

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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