Belford-Oxford Loop

Buena Vista

Leadville

Salida

Two 14er summits, a beautiful pass, and 6,146' elevation gain over 12.2 miles is a wonderful way to spend a day in the Sawatch Range.

Hiking Severe

Distance
19 km
Ascent
1.8 km
Descent
1.8 km
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
4.3 km
Gradient
16˚
Belford-Oxford Loop Map

4,547' of climbing in less than four miles to stand on top of 14,197' Mt. Belford is a haul, but be forewarned... that is just the beginning! Those four miles are comprised of many, many switchbacks, both below treeline and ascending Belford's northwest shoulder. The trail is a good one, however, and easy to follow all the way up.

Description

Gaining Mt. Belford's summit is much more straightforward than that of most other 14ers as it does not require any talus scrambling. At the summit, spend a bit of time recovering from the steep switchbacking ascent before beginning the traverse over to 14,153' Mt. Oxford.

The descent to the Bel-Ox saddle is fairly steep and takes some rock-scrambling. On the way to the rocky ridge descent, take a look at the trail that heads off to the right... that is the trail used on the loop return via Elkhead Pass.

Once past the rocky ridge, the remaining trail to Mt Oxford's summit is visible and uncomplicated. Be aware that the out-and-back traverse is nearly three-miles roundtrip and is above treeline the entire time. Before embarking on it, be sure to assess the weather, as well as your energy and strength!

Savor the second 14er summit of the day, then return on the same traverse trail to the junction with the trail to Elkhead Pass. This loop route, descending via Elkhead Pass, is far easier on the knees than reascending Mt. Belford and descending Belford's shoulder switchbacks. But the major advantage for a view-junkie is that it is drop-dead gorgeous!

At Elkhead Pass, enjoy the view down into Pine Creek Basin, before dropping down into Missouri Gulch for the stroll back to the TH.

Difficulty

Severe

Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Features

  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area