Hiking Grays and Torreys | Great Twin 14ers 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. Hiking Grays and Torreys 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.
Hiking Grays and Torreys | Fast Facts
Hiking Grays & Torreys - Route Informations
Any trip hiking Grays and Torreys begins at the Grays Peak Trailhead. This requires driving along a very rough road, so make sure you come in a car with 4WD and good clearance.
Once parked, start hiking Grays and Torreys by heading 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! There are also a number abandoned mines you can view across the valley as well.
After several miles hiking along this trail you’ll reach a morraine (a large ridge/hill) and cross a small creek as you hike up a large natural ramp. This gentle slope – the morraine – is the deposited remains of rocks carved from the cliffs above by glaciers thousands of years ago. Around this area, another trail breaks off to the right to climb Kelso Ridge. Do NOT attempt this difficult and dangerous route without proper planning and preparation. Continue left on the main Grays Peak route.
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. While it remains a hiking trail, you may need to use your hands from time to time for balance.
Heading up Grays Peak, you’ll work your way up a series of rocky, steep switchbacks. While the temptation will be strong, fight the urge to cut these switchbacks, which leads to significant erosion over time. Take note of a point where the return trail from Torreys Peak meets the main route. Climb the last trail segment to finally reach the peak of Grays Peak. Once you are on 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 hiking Grays and Torreys. Storms can form quickly in summer, so be wary of clouds that may form quickly. If all looks well, you can continue hiking Grays and Torreys.
Head down Grays’ south ridge and head towards the saddle that will lead back up to Torreys Peak. Look for cairns to mark the easiest route, which never exceeds Class 2 difficulty. Note the point at the saddle where you can descend on your return from Torreys to save time. Then, start to climb up the north ridge of Torreys Peak, avoiding several cornices of snow that linger into summer. The last few hundred feet turns into a scramble. Pick a line to the top, avoiding any snow or ice on the route if climbing early in the May.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy your achievement and the amazing views in all directions. You should be sure to descend with plenty of time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard.
I hope my Grays & Torreys Peak Route Guide was helpful. Looking for more info about hiking Grays and Torreys? Visit 14ers.com or summitpost.com for more route guide material. Safe travels on the trail, and best of luck hiking Grays and Torreys.
Planning on hiking Grays and Torreys? You will need a proper topographical map to navigate the route. I recommend downloading the map below on your phone to use, and also printing out a backup paper copy in case anything should happen to your electronics along the way. It is better to be safe than sorry while hiking Grays and Torreys!
The weather changes constantly in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Before hiking Grays and Torreys, it is very important to check the weather forecast multiple times, from multiple sources, in the days leading up to your trip. Here are several good weather forecast sources for those hiking Grays & Torreys.
Hiking Grays & Torreys 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.
Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.