Belford and Oxford
ElevationAscent: 5,670' 1,728 m
Descent: -5,670' -1,728 m
High: 14,139' 4,310 m
Low: 9,651' 2,942 m
GradeAvg Grade: 20% (11°)
Max Grade: 78% (38°)
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“A classic Sawatch run summiting two Colorado 14ers.”— Tyler Prince
The land manager requests dogs be leashed. This is an excellent run for dogs - minimal exposure, well-maintained switchbacks, and few mountain goats to chase - so few would blame the owner who lets their dog(s) roam free.
From the parking area, head south up the Missouri Gulch Trail. Cross a footbridge almost immediately. Continue for about a quarter mile before coming to a series of switchbacks. Run up through fairly steep forest on excellent terrain. The switchbacks mellow after about a mile. Cross a stream to your left at around 10,800 ft - there isn't much of a bridge here, just a bunch of logs. In under a half mile, come to the remains of an old shack right off the trail. Continue for just a little bit before coming to treeline at 11,200 ft. Exit the forest along some short trees. Mt. Belford will be visible in the distance.
The trail here is a little rocky. Continue along a creek to the right until you reach a junction at 11,600 ft in some willows. Turn left and angle toward Mt. Belford's northwest ridge, which is easy to see and has excellent trail. (Staying right will take you to Missouri Mountain).
From here, it's a short jaunt to Mt. Belford's northwest ridge. Hit the ridge at a rocky area (cairned) before attaining an excellent trail...with many switchbacks. You'll spend the next mile on nothing but sharp switchbacks, but will encounter hardly any obstacles. Around 13,800 ft, the switchbacks angle to the left, and a false summit pops into view. Continue along a straight (refreshing) trail. Crest the false summit at 14,100 ft, upon which the summit of Mt. Belford comes into view. It's just another hundred feet and change to the small rock band that is the summit.
From Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford's summit is 1.5 miles away. From the summit, run south to about 14,000 ft before angling left toward a clear saddle. It gets steep here and is killer on the way back up. Run down some clear trail and then talus to reach the 13,500 saddle. Enjoy the brief flat terrain before starting up toward Mt. Oxford. Follow the trail and reach some rocks at 14,000, following the rocky path up to the summit.
From here, turn around and do it all backwards. Ambitious runners may want to turn at the Mt. Belford - Missouri Gulch junction and continue to Missouri Mountain. Another option still is to camp at this junction, stashing gear as necessary.
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