Missouri Mountain Standard Route Guide

Missouri Mountain is a rugged peak with great scrambling opportunities up its northwest ridge. This is a Class 2+ route, with one spot in particular that requires a short downclimb 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 14er, this is a great transition trip. Plan your visit with this Missouri Mountain Standard Route Guide.

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

Missouri Mountain Fast Facts

Missouri Mountain Standard Route Guide

From the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, 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 hold mining cabin. If you are doing a two day climb, this is a great place to spend the night.

Continuing past the cabin, pop out of the trees to see Missouri Mountain far ahead of you. You can make out much of the route from here. 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 reach Missouri’s formidable summit. 

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 Standard Route Guide.

Missouri Mountain Standard Route Guide

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.

  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.


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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.