Mt Belford and Oxford Route Guide | Summit Two Spectacular 14ers
Missouri Gulch is your ticket to three different 14ers. In this guide, we leave Missouri Mountain alone and focus on Mt Belford and Mt Oxford, which can be tackled together. This hike brings together a historic mining area, well-built trail and solitude for an absolutely great experience. Make sure you check the weather before continuing on to Mt Oxford – it takes longer than it looks. Start planning your trip up these peaks with my Mt Belford and Oxford Route Guide.
Mt Belford and Oxford Route Fast Facts
Mt Belford and Oxford Route Guide - Northwest Ridge
The Mt Belford and Oxford route guide starts at the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Hiking up Missouri Gulch starts with a series of switchbacks that are tiring but get you into the apline terrain rather quickly. After the path straightens out, you’ll come to a stream crossing. It looks quite a bit different than the picture below following a major avalanche during the winter of 2019.
Once you cross the river, continue heading up the slope along the well-built trail. As you approach tree line you’ll come to a historic cabin built by a miner in the late 19th century. It’s a great place to pitch your tent for the night if doing the trip as an overnight (which I recommend).
After leaving the cover of the trees the rest of the route up Belford becomes visible for the first time. You’ll be hiking up the large ridge that comes out from the mountain in your direction. Take a left at the signed junction about a half mile beyond tree line.
Gaining the ridge requires a scramble through some rocky, rugged terrain. I believe this is really the crux of the entire route (though some disagree). Pick your way up through the rocks until back on the clear, maintained trail.
Continue up the ridge up the trail, following the switchbacks as they come. Cutting the trail harms the environment by creating unsustainable drainage channels – stick to the trail!
Along the summit ridge walk across the relatively flat section towards the summit block. While the block is rugged there is a pretty clear, hikable trail up to the summit.
From the summit, turn south and head across a flat section. Aim for the point where the ridge connecting with Oxford meets the flat section. Mt Harvard rises dramatically behind this meeting point. Take a left here and descend carefully to the traverse ridge.
Continue hiking about a half mile to the saddle at 13,500 feet. Be wary of snow which may cover sections of trail during the early spring.
Begin climbing back up to the summit of Mt Oxford, about 600 feet above you. Watch the weather as you go. There aren’t any easy descents here except for the way back you came.
As you near the summit block of Mt Oxford, head left and weave your way through rocks following cairns and the trail before you finally summit. Enjoy your time, but make sure you can get back over Belford and back to tree line before noon so you’re safe from afternoon thunderstorms.
I hope you enjoyed my Mt Belford and Oxford Route Guide!
A topographic map should be in any mountaineer’s backpack. Here is a high-quality topographic map of the Mt Belford and Oxford route guide you can use on your climb. I recommend downloading a digital version on your cell phone, and printing out a backup paper copy to bring with in case anything goes wrong with your electronics.
You shouldn’t head into the mountains without reviewing the weather forecast multiple in preparation, from multiple sources. Here are several dependable sources for weather forecast information for the Mt Belford and Oxford 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.
- 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.