The Best 14ers in Colorado for Beginners
Ready to climb a 14er, but not sure where to begin? With more than 50 different peaks, it can be difficult to choose. Here are the five best 14ers in colorado for beginners., including one peak from each sub-range Looking for even more information? Check out our Complete 14ers Beginner Guide for more advice.
Grays Peak, among the closest peaks to Denver and the Front Range, is the busiest of the 14ers on this list. While you can leave home the morning of your hike, you’ll face significant crowds along the way – plan to arrive before dawn if you want an easy time parking. Click here for the full route information.
Grays Peak Pros
- Close to Denver and other Front Range Cities.
- Class 1: Only requires hiking, no scrambling involved.
- Easy to add Class 2 Torreys Peak to summit two 14ers.
Grays Peak Cons
- Very crowded: Among the top 5 busiest 14ers.
- Requires good clearance and four-wheel drive to make it to the upper trailhead.
Mount Sherman is nestled in the second busiest Range in Colorado. While the drive for most people is slightly longer (between 1-2 hours), you’ll get slightly less crowded summits. The main route also passes numerous historic mining structures from the Silver Boom era, which adds to the mystery and adventure of your climb. Click here to see the full route information.
Mount Sherman Pros
- Balanced distance from Front Range with slightly less visitors
- Historic mining structures along the hike
- Less than 3,000 feet to climb
Mount Sherman Cons
- Still one of the busiest peaks to climb in the state
- Includes some Class 2 scrambling below the summit
The San Juan Range is a massive range in the Southwest of Colorado, far from most population centers. As such, it’s the least travelled range by far. If you’re looking for a quiet first climb, San Luis Peak is perfect. Even though it’s in the heart of a major, rugged range, it’s a tame Class 1 peak that anyone can climb with a bit of time. Click here to see the full route information.
San Luis Peak Pros
- The quietest peak on the list: expect to see few people.
- The views of the rugged San Juans are among the best in the state.
- A very easy Class 1 hike to the summit.
San Luis Peak Cons
- One of the hardest peaks to reach, 5 hours from Denver
- At 13.5 miles, this is one of the longest peaks on the beginner’s list.
The Sangre de Christo Mountains in Southern Colorado are unique among the Colorado Rockies as a fault-block range. This means they rise abruptly from the plains without foothills, making for fantastic views over the valleys below. The Southern Colony Lakes area is pristine, the most beautiful area on the list, however you must deal with a long approach hike to reach it. Click here to see all the route information.
Humboldt Peak Pros
- Southern Colony Lakes is pristine and beautiful.
- This is the best route to turn into a two-day overnight trip.
- Very few people on this route.
Humboldt Peak Cons
- A moderate drive from most populated areas
- You need four-wheel drive and good clearance to reach the upper trailhead.
- This is the longest, and most arduous climb of the best 14ers in Colorado for beginners.
The Sawatch Range has more peaks over 13,000 feet than any other Range in the state, the queen of the Colorado Rockies. Mt. Elbert is both the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains, and the easiest to climb in the Sawatch. Though the route is easy Class 1 hiking, it’s a steep slog of 4,700 feet of gain in just under 10 miles. Don’t expect much solitude, as many people try to climb this state high point. Click here for more information on the route.
Mount Elbert Pros
- This is the tallest point in Colorado, and the entire Rocky Mountains! Bucket list material.
- Class 1 hiking – you won’t need any scrambling
- Great campgrounds right near the trailhead if you want to camp the night before.
Mount Elbert Cons
- This is a very popular peak – you won’t find much solitude here.
- The Northeast Ridge is a slog, and very steep.
The Best 14ers in Colorado for Beginners
Those are the Best 14ers in Colorado for Beginners! Once you have your peak, make sure you’re fully prepared for the task! There’s no such thing as an easy 14er. Check the weather forecast the morning of your hike, bring along the ten essentials, leave plans with someone at home, and start early enough to be off summit by noon. For more help, visit my 14ers Beginners Guide or research the routes at 14ers.com.
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.