There are 53 14ers in the state of Colorado. Even if you started now and learned to love scrambling, you probably still won’t see the top of all of them in this lifetime.
Even an “easy” 14er is no joke. It’s going to take hours to reach the summit. Where you will almost certainly be hit by freezing winds …….and possibly lightning. And on the way down there’s always the chance of falling down a boulder field.
To me, because of the time and energy you’re going to invest, it’s important to pick the right 14er for you. Not all of them are that pretty. Not all of them are without actual rock climbing or serious scrambling. Some of them are hard to get to. Some don’t have clear trails.
But fear not the 14er! If you don’t love boulder hoping, scree fields, getting lost, or getting stuck on some ugly wasteland of a rock, I highly recommend Mt. Yale.
See, look how pretty that trail is. I hate getting lost on 14ers. If struggling to navigate while also struggling to catch your breath is not your favorite weekend pastime, either, this is the 14er for you.
Actually, if you have ever thought about doing a 14er but aren’t sure if you can, or had a terrible past experience, or simply just don’t know which one to try, I can tell you that this one is for you.
Not all 14ers have lush fields of wildflowers or marmots. This one has both. The second with attitude. I have a great video of a conversation I had with this particular marmot. Sadly, I am left handed and it turned out upside down. So all you get is a picture and your last memory of that cute, weird little chirp-bark.
Hiking 14ers is, obviously, not the same kind of hiking you do with your family for fun. Just above tree line, things change substantially, presenting you with many more challenges of preparedness, wits, and pure cardiovascular output.
But it is absolutely every bit as rewarding as it is challenging to finally get to the top and look all the fluffy clouds right in the eye and see endless miles of mountains stretching out in every direction.
Difficulty: Pretty easy for a 14er. Class 2 trail almost the whole way with a little boulder field navigation at the very top. Like so:
Distance: About 9 miles round trip. We’re pretty quick and it took us 2 hours to get to the top and 2 hours back down. Most people took around 3 hours to the top. A few took 4-5hours. Start early and respect the weather. Around 2pm it starts changing from afternoon sunshine to late afternoon thunderstorms. plan to be down by 2.
Trail Use: Heavy. Because it is such an easy trail, and such a pretty hike, and easy to find, this is a popular hike. We saw an entire high school cross country team up there. Our first thoughts was: its nice to see young people out in nature. Quickly followed by: young people are awfully annoying.
Logistics: Take the Denny Creek Trail head, located 10 miles outside Buena Vista, CO on highway 24. i love how easy it is to find this trailhead and find the trail. No tortuous drives up a crappy 4X4 road or driving an hour from town. This one has fantastic access- it’s 15 minutes from Buena Vista and easy to find.