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Mt. Bierstadt – West Slopes

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.3 (102) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An easy intro to Colorado's 14ers on the standard West Slopes route.


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Map Key

7.2

Miles

11.6

KM

63%

Runnable

14,016' 4,272 m

High

11,509' 3,508 m

Low

2,625' 800 m

Up

2,624' 800 m

Down

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

38%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This is perhaps Colorado's easiest and most accessible 14er, just an hour and change from Denver over Georgetown's Guanella Pass. While absolutely packed on any summer weekend with beginning hikers, experts, and trail-runners alike, Mt. Bierstadt provides some excellent views, including but not limited to one of the Denver skyline on clear days. This is the standard route most commonly used to reach the peak.

Need to Know

Generally, you should expect a 4+ hour trip, and plan accordingly. Bring sun protection, rain gear, and at least 2 liters of water.

Note: Even though land management says dogs are to be leashed, you'll see many dogs and few leashes.

Runner Notes

The bottom 60% or so is fairly runnable, after which rocks and steep grades render maintaining any speed extremely difficult. While this is a relatively easy run, it still takes faster runners almost two hours.

Description

Drive (in any functioning automobile, 2WD is fine) up Guanella Pass from Georgetown. There is ample parking (day or night) along the road, and plenty of signs designating the TH. You'll start this run right around tree line.

From the trailhead, follow a clearly designated trail over easy class 1 terrain with minimal vertical. After crossing over some small creeks on well-maintained footbridges, pass through some willows. After about one mile, the grade begins to increase, though the terrain remains at class 1. Approaching the two mile mark, the trail turns to the south and continues to steepen. From here the trail becomes increasingly rough all the way to the summit ridge, but will not surpass class 2. Some log steps and small to medium size rocks along the switchbacks demand at least some vigilance.

Continue upward, turning left onto a bearing E/NE up the summit ridge. This area is prone to typical Front Range weather, so be prepared for some intense winds. The summit comes into sight just a few hundred yards up the ridge. Once visible, it's just an easy 200 ft or so scramble on solid rock to the summit. This should be easy for any semi-fit human, but smaller dogs may require some assistance.

From here, you can return to the Mt. Bierstadt TH or continue to Mt. Evans via a low class 3 traverse known as "the Sawtooth."

Flora & Fauna

Willows at the start of the run retain a lot of moisture... be ready to get wet. The 14ers Initiative does an excellent job of keeping them from getting too unruly, but plants certainly have a tendency to grow back.

Don't feed the marmots - they're feisty little creatures.

History & Background

Mt. Bierstadt is named after first summiter Albert Bierstadt, a German-American painter best known for his dramatic landscapes of the American West. At 14,065 feet, it is the 38th highest peak in Colorado.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tyler Prince with improvements by Ralph Bradt

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 102 votes

#65

Overall
  4.3 from 102 votes
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43%
4 Star
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3 Star
12%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#22

in Colorado

#65

Overall
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13,115 Since Feb 18, 2015
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Photos

Looking down the mountain from Mt. Bierstadt Trail
Feb 23, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Mt Bierstadt summit view
Feb 26, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Mount Bierstadt
Sep 19, 2017 near Georgetown, CO
Mt. Bierstadt from the main TH. Much of the route is visible, with the trail starting from the lower left of the picture and jogging up the center hill. From here it passes along the summit ridge to the right. The sawtooth is to the left of the summit.
Feb 18, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Clearly you're above treeline for the majority of this route...
Feb 23, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
View of the summit ridge at sunrise, just as the going gets tough. An early start is highly recommended - better views, fewer crowds, and a dryer day are almost guaranteed.
Feb 21, 2015 near Georgetown, CO

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Check-Ins

Oct 10, 2020
Kaylee M
Jul 18, 2019
Atsuko Ohtake
Sep 15, 2018
Mike McIver
Sep 2, 2018
Gannon Duckworth
7.5mi
Jul 25, 2018
G Raahauge
Jul 2, 2018
Bryce Kerscher
Felt good. My dog was "doggin it" towards the top. 7.2mi
Oct 18, 2017
Mike Nold
Planned on adding Mt Evans via the sawtooth, as it was sunny and in the 40s, but my breathable trailrunners and frozen toes had other plans. 7.2mi — 3h 45m
Sep 15, 2017
Mr Singleton
7.2mi — 1h 54m