FATMAP difficulty grade
While there's no such thing as an "easy" 14er, some 14ers are quantifiably easier than others.
Mount Bierstadt is renowned as one of the best 14ers to climb for your first attempt at hiking above 14,000 feet.
The standard route, mapped here, only gains 2,700 feet of elevation during a 7.3-mile roundtrip hike.
Compared to other mountains in Colorado that require 15 or more miles of hiking and over 5,000 feet of elevation gain, Bierstadt is indeed objectively easier… but it's still in no way the easiest mountain in the state. The climb up Bierstadt begins right at treeline.
The trail traverses a marshy area through low undergrowth.
To reduce the impact on the landscape from the crowds of climbers attempting Bierstadt, the 14er trail crews aided by local volunteers have built a boardwalk over the wettest areas.
It seems like every few years, the boardwalk has been extended a bit longer.
Now, you're no longer likely to begin your summit climb with wet feet, and the wetlands aren't nearly as impacted by the passage of thousands of people as they once were. The bulk of the climb switchbacks up the flanks of the mountain, ascending classic scree-filled switchbacks.
Take your time and enjoy the views on the way up.
Thanks to Bierstadt's position in the middle of the mountain range, stunning mountain peaks surround you.
Bierstadt's slopes are also teaming with marmot and pika—keep your distance, but enjoy the opportunity to observe the inhabitants of this high altitude environment. The final push to the summit makes the climb up Bierstadt more technical and challenging than the stats belie.
For the last push up the ridge, you'll be faced with a classic Colorado boulder field scramble.
You must use all of your limbs to scramble up the massive boulders.
While none of the moves are exposed or extremely scary, successfully navigating the ridgeline will require athletic climbing at 14,000 feet above sea level. The views from the summit make it all worth it! If you thought the scenery during your ascent was fantastic, the 360-degree views from Bierstadt's rocky top will force you to sit down and simply drink it all in. Enjoy your time on the summit, but keep an eye on the weather.
Whatever you do, don't let Bierstadt's reputation as an easy 14er lull you into complacency.
Thunderstorms filled with lightning still pose a very real threat to your continued existence, so be sure to summit early and get back to treeline by noon-ish.