Hiking Missouri Mountain | An Incredible Class 2+ Scramble

Missouri Mountain is a rugged peak with great scrambling opportunities up its northwest ridge. Hiking Missouri Mountain is a Class 2+ route, with one spot in particular that requires a short down climb at high elevation. If you aren’t a fan of heights, this isn’t the best peak for you. If you’re considering trying a Class 3 fourteener, this is a great transition trip. Plan your visit with my Missouri Mountain route guide below.

New to 14ers? Check Out my 14er Beginners Guide to Get Started!

Hiking Missouri Mountain: Fast Facts

Hiking Missouri Mountain - Northwest Ridge Route

Your trip hiking Missouri Mountain begins at the Missouri Gulch Trailhead. From the parking area head up the solid trail and begin ascending a series of switchbacks. Early on you’ll pass a small grave for a child from the historic mining era, a reminder of the history around you. Eventually reach a creek cross, which will look far different from this photo due to a large avalanche in 2019. Cross here and continue along the trail.

You’ll now pass through a large avalanche scar from the historic 2019 season. Hike up the rebuilt trail to ascend a moraine and enter Missouri Gulch proper. As you near tree line, you will come across an old mining cabin from the early 1900’s. If you are doing a two day climb, this is a great place to spend the night, using the cabin as a windbreak.

Continuing past the cabin, pop out of the trees to see Missouri Mountain far ahead of you, and Mount Belford to the left. You can make out much of the route for hiking Missouri Mountain from here as well. Your task now is to continue up the Gulch, ascending another large moraine, until you reach the Elk Pass trail junction. 

The trail junction here comes into view once you make it up and over another large moraine. Just after passing the junction, take a sharp right to start ascending a slope using a series of switchbacks. 

Once up the slope, take a trail along the slope that gradually rises to the saddle on the ridge above. This is a rough, rocky trail, so take your time. A fall here would not be fun. In early summer, bring microspikes as there are several sections of snow beyond. 

Once on the saddle, turn left to look at your remaining route. This is where the scrambling becomes Class 2+ as you traverse over a few exposed areas. Stick to the trail and you’ll be good to go. Watch for cairns as well to guide you.

Just a few hundred feet short of the summit you will reach the crux of the route. Turn and downclimb a short 5 meter section of rock. I recommend a helmet here just in case you knock anything loose. It’s not difficult, but if you are new to climbing it may feel exposed and uncomfortable. Take your time, and let someone experienced talk you through it if you are unsure. 

Once beyond this short down climb, the final few hundred feet lies in front you. Ascend this final section of trail to finish hiking Missouri Mountain.

Once you make it to the top, celebrate your accomplishment with a snack, summit photo, and summit beer if you have one! Make sure you turn around with plenty of time to reach the safety of tree line before afternoon thunderstorms move in. I hope you enjoyed my Missouri Mountain Route Guide. Safe travels on the trail!

A good topographical map should be in every mountaineer’s backpack. If you plan on hiking Missouri Mountain, I recommend downloading this map of the route on your phone or other electronic device, and also printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your digital version.

Missouri Mountain Standard Route Guide

You should always check the weather forecast several times, from several sources before climbing or hiking Missouri Mountain. Here are several dependable weather forecast sites for the Missouri Mountain route.

Mountain Forecast Missouri Mountain

NOAA Weather Forecast Missouri Mountain

Hiking Missouri Mountain is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Missouri Mountain is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Missouri Mountain route guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

Alex Derr

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.

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