Can you believe Colorado is home to 54 mountains that rise to 14,000 feet in elevation and higher?! With over 300 days of sunshine, hiking is by far one of the most popular activities held by locals and tourists alike. To summit a mountain of that scope is no joke and a sought-after goal for many. While it can be intimidating, there are some top 14ers for beginners.
It is important to keep in mind that not all mountains are created equal. There is much to consider, from rapidly changing weather to dramatic terrain. Luckily, these routes have been heavily scouted and divided into classes that give you an idea of what to expect so that you can make the most educated choice based on your fitness and experience level. Class Levels range from Class 1 (clear and well-worn) to Class 5 (expert/technical/ropes required).
Below are our top 3 choices for Beginner Friendly routes
Things to note:
- With these choices being well-worn and beginner friendly, they often draw large crowds. Peak Season is June through October. Get there early!
- Altitude sickness is no joke. Know the symptoms. If you are not local and traveling from a lower elevation give yourself ample time to acclimate before attempting any of these climbs or any strenuous activity. Drink LOTS OF WATER and get plenty of rest.
- Be prepared with all the essential snacks (yes, grab a Genesee bar, or two or three), WATER, gear, sunscreen, and as with pretty much any Colorado outdoor activity, best to dress in easy, lightweight layers.
Grays Peak (14,270 ft) – Near Keystone, CO, Grays Peak is easy to access off of I-70 and totals 8 miles round trip with a modest elevation gain of 3,000 ft.
Torreys Peak (14,267 ft) – Near Keystone, CO. Only slightly more difficult than Grays Peak which bumped this 14er to a Class 2. Still easy access off of I-70 and another 8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 3,000 ft.
Where to stay: The towns of Silverthorne, Keystone, or Breckinridge are great places to look for accommodation. We recommend looking for cool, local vacation rentals from Airbnb.
Huron Peak (14,003 ft) – Near Aspen, CO. Another Class 2 climb this time taking you through Alpine Meadows and Pine Forests. This is a 7-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 3500 ft. It does keep steep in places and towards the end requires some actual climbing with your hands but the trail offers switchbacks which makes it accessible to most.
Where to stay: Aspen or Snowmass! Be prepared to drop some coins, though. Aspen boasts some of the most expensive and luxurious rentals in the state as well as some of the most renowned dining experiences.
Lastly, ensure that you are properly hydrated and fueled for your hike. Bring more than enough water, and nutrient-dense foods that give you sustainable energy, including Genesee protein bars!