Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide | 2 Great Peaks for Beginners
Grays & Torreys Peak are just over an hour from Denver, with the trailhead only a few minutes off of I-70. This makes it a very busy 14er route, good for beginners who’d like some company should anything go wrong. However, if you’re looking for solitude, I’d recommend choosing another peak, as these twin mountains are the busiest fourteeners in the state. Going on a weekday or in the spring or fall will also provide more peace and quiet along this busy route. My Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide has everything you need to prepare. If you can get a four-wheel drive vehicle to drive up to the trailhead, it will make things much easier as well.
NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!
Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide Fast Facts
Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide
My Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide starts your trip at the Grays Peak Trailhead. This is a rough road, so make sure you come in a car with 4WD and good clearance. Once parked, start across the well-built footbridge to start your journey. You’ll head up the right side of the gulch gradually with a series of switchbacks with grand views in front and to your left. In July watch for wildflowers along this section, especially the state flower the columbine!
Eventually you’ll reach amorraine and cross a small creek as you hike up a large natural ramp. This gentle slope is the result of glaciers depositing the rock carved from the walls above. From this point onward the trail will become rockier and steeper as you approach the North Slopes of Grays Peak for which this route is name.
Heading up Grays Peak, you’ll work your way up a series of switchbacks. While the temptation will be strong, fight the urge to cut the switchbacks, which leads to significant erosion over time. Take note of a point where the return trail from Torreys Peak meets the main route. Once you reach the summit, enjoy your well deserved reward of whatever food and drink you brought along!
This is a great time to pause and check the weather conditions before you continue on to Torreys Peak. Storms can form quickly in summer, so be wary of clouds that may form quickly. Head down Grays’ north ridge and head towards Torreys. Look for cairns to mark the easiest route, which never exceeds Class 2. Note the point at the saddle where you can descend on your return to save time. Finally, climb the last few hundred feet, avoiding any snow or ice on the route if climbing early in the May. Once you reach the summit, enjoy your achievement before descending.
No Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide is complete without a topographical map. I recommend downloading this map on your phone and printing out a paper copy so you have a backup.
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.