By Audrey Andrews | August 11th 2021
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Out & Back:
2,575 feet elevation gain
Like Quandary Peak, Mount Bierstadt is known as a relatively easy 14er. It is also quite accessible due to its proximity to Denver. Combined, these attributes make Mount Bierstadt quite popular. While the crowds I experienced did not compare to Quandary, the mountain was busy even on a Tuesday morning.
Mount Bierstadt sits in Colorado’s Front Range and reaches 14,065 feet above sea level. The most popular trailhead is accessible via Guanella Pass Road, which climbs above I-70 and ventures south. Pit toilets are available at the trailhead, although crowds mean that hikers should expect a line on weekends.
The trail to summit Mount Bierstadt begins next to the pit toilets and heads downhill. The area is quite wet year-round, so elevated wooden walkways guide hikers across the landscape.
Before beginning the long upward grind, hikers cross Scott Gomer Creek. From what I’ve read, this creek can sometimes require wading. When I visited, it was easy to hop across rocks without getting my shoes wet. Although the stream does not look too big, the soothing sounds of rushing water can be heard from quite far away.
After climbing through trails surrounded by bushes, hikers are awarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. I was lucky enough to encounter mountain goats on my trek, which are known to regularly hang out on Mount Bierstadt.
The trail is fairly straightforward until the final climb. Some rock-scrambling is required and I recommend keeping left (from the perspective while heading uphill). I did so on the descent and the going was much easier. Hikers do not need any special gear to traverse these boulders besides an attention to detail and safety.
As conditions can change quickly on big mountains, be sure to bring gloves and rain gear. Even in August, I used both for warmth at the top. The wind and weather on 14ers can be quite unpredictable, so be prepared.
The descent from Mount Bierstadt to the trailhead is quite enjoyable, as the trail is never dangerously steep. This may be a great first 14er for someone who has put in the work and is ready for a challenge.