Five 14ers to Hike in Colorado

Rachel Rasmussen

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While Fort Collins offers plenty of trail to hike, sometimes a more experienced hiker needs a more challenging climb. If that is the case, here are five 14ers in Colorado to try.

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Mt. Elbert

At 14,439 feet, Mt. Elbert is the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in Colorado. This hike is rated as relatively difficult and is around 9 miles in length roundtrip. The standard route to begin this hike is the Northeast Ridge just outside of Leadville. The route is easy to begin but the farther up you go, you will run into false summits and around 13,400, the route becomes significantly steeper for a little less than a mile. After that the trail becomes easier again until the summit. At the top, hikers are gifted with beautiful 360 degree views.

Mt. Massive

At 14,421 feet, Mt. Massive is the second highest summit in Colorado but it also has 5 different summits that are all above 14,000 feet and a summit ridge over 3 miles long. This makes it the mountain with more area above 14,000 feet than any other in the 48 contiguous states. The first 3 miles are relatively easy but after that, the hike slowly becomes more difficult until you make it to the top. During the hike, you are treated to great views that help to keep you going until you get to the summit.

Crestone Peak

Crestone Peak sits at 14,294 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Range and is the seventh highest summit in Colorado. This is one of the more difficult mountains to climb out of the 14ers; therefore, a decent amount of climbing experience is recommended in order to climb this mountain. Most of its trails are ranked as Class 3 and some require more technical hiking. Be prepared for the experience of a lifetime with this challenging mountain.

Wilson Peak

Sitting at 14,017 feet, Wilson Peak is the highest point in San Miguel County. It is the easiest of the three mountains that are relatively close in proximity, the other two mountains being El Diente and Mt. Wilson. If Wilson Peak looks familiar it’s because it is the mountain range featured on all Coors labels and products. The most efficient and direct route to the summit is by way of the Rock of Ages route. It is a class 2 all the way to the Rock of Ages saddle at about 13,000 feet. 

Mt. Evans

At 14,264, Mt. Evans has the highest paved road in America. This means that it is possible to drive up near the summit. It is also the closest 14er to Denver so it sees a lot of hikers in the summer. This mountain makes up for the lack of hiking difficulty in its breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains as well as the possibility to run into some wildlife that would usually take hours to find on a typical hike. 

Even if you are a Colorado native, always be aware of altitude sickness when climbing 14ers. Make sure to drink plenty of water and take the hikes slow and steady to give your body a chance to adjust to the altitude. Some of the symptoms of altitude sickness to look out for include headaches, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, fatigue, and weakness. If you feel any of these symptoms, let the people of your hiking group know.