Guidebook

7 of the Easiest 14ers for Beginners

There's no such thing as an easy 14er, but here are 7 of the most approachable Colorado peaks over 14,000 feet.

Greg Heil

Description

Colorado's soaring mountain peaks scrape the bright blue dome of the sky, boasting some of the highest elevations on the continent. Sitting on top of a lofty 14er summit feels both physically and emotionally like being on top of the world! You'll have the opportunity to slowly examine the landscape below you from an uncommon vantage point: smaller mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, roads, and towns. With the rest of humanity so far below you, the problems of the world often seem utterly insignificant. This euphoric feeling is bolstered by an exhilarating rush from the aerobic effort of the climb… and the lack of oxygen reaching your brain.

Climbing 14ers is a challenging endeavor, and yet, all 58 of the peaks don't demand the same level of effort. While many of the mountain summits require long, arduous hikes and technical mountaineering abilities, others are much more achievable by the average physically-fit human being. In this guidebook, we've rounded up seven of the easiest 14ers that are perfect for peak climbing beginners.

As you prepare to climb your first 14er, remember that "there's no such thing as an easy 14er." While the mountains in this guidebook are objectively less technical or have shorter approaches than other mountains in the state, every single mountain peak should be approached with an abundance of caution.

"Mountaineering in Colorado can be very dangerous and many people have died on the 14ers," writes 14ers.com. Hazards include, but are not limited to: lightning strikes, exposure (including hypothermia), altitude sickness, dehydration, falling from exposed cliffs and boulders, and so much more.

One of the major hazards that you must constantly be aware of while climbing a 14er is the weather. Thunderstorms will build quickly in the mountains on most summer afternoons. Lightning strikes are one of the most deadly forces above treeline in Colorado, so it's paramount that you return below treeline before the storms build. This means that you'll often need to start your hike very early in the morning.

According to 14ers.com, "I usually plan for a start early enough to get me below treeline by noon (on the descent). For a day hike that requires 10-15 miles roundtrip, consider hitting the trail a couple of hours before sunrise." While this is a great rule of thumb, note that storms can and do build earlier in the day. If the skies look dangerous, it's always best to turn around and play it safe. Remember: when you reach the summit, your hike is only half over.

Climbing Colorado's lofty mountain peaks is one of the most fulfilling outdoor pursuits in the country! The feeling of satisfaction from this incredible accomplishment is impossible to beat! But this satisfaction comes from the challenge of the climb and the difficulty inherent in climbing 14ers. Make smart choices, climb within your abilities, and always be willing to turn around so that you can live to climb another day.

Sources:
14ers.com
Coloradoan.com
DenverPost.com
OutThereColorado.com

Grays and Torreys Peaks
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Grays and Torreys Peaks

4 - 5 hrs
12.9 km
1,086 m
1,086 m
Summit two 14,000-foot peaks in one big hike.
Severe
Private
Quandary Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Quandary Peak

Salida
3 - 4 hrs
10.9 km
1,046 m
1,046 m
Rugged ridgeline hike to the top of one of Colorado's more accessible 14ers.
Severe
Private
Mount Sherman: Southwest Ridge from Fourmile Creek
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Sherman: Southwest Ridge from Fourmile Creek

Salida
2 - 3 hrs
7.8 km
611 m
611 m
While not "easy," Sherman is renowned as one of Colorado's easiest and most accessible 14ers.
Severe
Private
Handies Peak - Grouse Gulch Route
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Handies Peak - Grouse Gulch Route

5 - 6 hrs
15.2 km
1,391 m
1,391 m
Escape the crowds and climb this popular 14er, known for its beauty, by hiking the Grouse Gulch route to 14,048' Handies Peak.
Severe
Private
Mount Bierstadt
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Bierstadt

11.7 km
823 m
Despite being known as one of Colorado's easier 14ers, the climb up Bierstadt is still varied and rewarding.
Easy
Private
Huron Peak - Northwest Slopes
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Huron Peak - Northwest Slopes

Buena Vista
3 - 4 hrs
10.5 km
1,030 m
1,030 m
Second lowest in stature, 14,003' Huron Peak is second-to-none in sheer beauty.
Severe
Private