Colorado 14ers: Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans

See for yourself why early explorers and painters adored these beautiful peaks. This trip highlights two classic routes to the double crowns of the Front Range.
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See for yourself why early explorers and painters adored these beautiful peaks. This trip highlights two classic routes to the double crowns of the Front Range.

Mount Bierstadt, Colorado’s friendliest Fourteener, is now less demanding than ever. The once-fearsome (or at least highly annoying) willow swamps at its base have been tamed with boardwalks, and a newly rebuilt road to 11,669-foot Guanella Pass makes it a snap to drive to the trailhead, an hour from Denver. From the pass, you’ll zip 2,850 vertical feet to the top—budget 2 hours each way if you’re fit, 4 if not. Not surprisingly, this superhighway of a trail is crowded with families, dogs, trail runners, and wheezing flatlanders. (Bierstadt may be close to the road, but it’s still a high peak, so don’t get any bright ideas about bagging this summit the day after you fly in from Boston.)
Since the road to Guanella Pass is plowed, Bierstadt is also one of the most accessible Fourteeners in winter. Summit views circle from the eastern plains to South Park and the Sawatch Range. To the north, Sawtooth Ridge slices across the gap to Mt. Evans, one of two Fourteeners with a road to the top. Bierstadt may be a stroll, but at least it’s not drive-thru. -Text by Dougald MacDonald -Mapped by Jason Gilbert and Ben Smith

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.5

Waypoints

BIE001

Location: 39.5962677, -105.7105331

From Guanella Pass trailhead, head ESE for gentle descent to Scott Gomer Creek; Mt. Bierstadt's rounded peak looms ahead

BIE002

Location: 39.5945168, -105.7045517

Wind through thick willows on wooden boardwalk, heading E

BIE003

Location: 39.5942497, -105.6973801

Cross Scott Gomer Creek

BIE004

Location: 39.5921974, -105.6946411

To climb Mt. Bierstadt, continue straight @ T and begin ascent of W slope. To ascend Mt. Evans, turn L @ T and begin NE traverse

BIE005

Location: 39.5908661, -105.6882477

Stay R @ T

BIE006

Location: 39.5926018, -105.6845856

Take a breather and enjoy views; head S up Bierstadt's NW shoulder

BIE007

Location: 39.5839996, -105.678215

Continue ascent of boulder-covered slopes toward ridgeline; only 1,000 ft. left to Bierstadt's summit

BIE008

Location: 39.5802498, -105.6727524

Turn L on ridge for steep, NE climb on rocky slopes (stay on rocks to avoid trampling vegetation)

BIE009

Location: 39.5826492, -105.6687851

Mt. Bierstadt (14,060 ft.): Barren peaks form a rocky barrier between Mt. Evans Wilderness and Denver to the NE. Scan the Sawtooth's jagged ridgeline to the NE to find Bierstadt's neighboring 14er, Mt. Evans; retrace route

BIE010

Location: 39.5882568, -105.6432648

Mt. Evans (14,264 ft.)