Best 14ers Near Denver | 5 Great Peaks Within 2 Hours
Looking for a fourteener to hike or climb that’s close to the Front Range metro area? You’ve got more options nearby than any other city in the lower 48. These five peaks include some of the best 14ers near Denver. However, that means they attract a lot of attention, especially during summer weekends. If you climb these peaks, plan your trip on a weekday or in late spirng or early fall.
Take My Advice: Pick a Peak Far From Denver
Honestly, especially if this is your first fourteeneer, I recommend skipping these five best 14ers near Denver entirely, and climbing something further away from Denver entirely. The Sawatch Range 14ers are 2.5 hours away, but that extra hour driving puts a lot of distance between you and the biggest crowds. For even more solitude, you can drive the 5-6 hours to the San Juan Mountains for supreme quiet and solitude. If that’s not an option, or you want something quick for a day trip, here are five of the best 14ers near Denver.
Mount Bierstadt was my first 14er, along with many others. It is consistently ranked one of the three busiest fourteeners in the state – more than 900 people climbed it one day this summer in 2020. The route is a class 1 hike for the majority of the way, with an easy scramble up the summit ridge to reach the top. With a well-defined trail and plenty of others, it’s hard (though not impossible) to get lost on this 14er. For these same reasons, it’s a good first winter 14er for those looking for more challenge. Click here for route info.
Grays Peak is another top contender for the busiest 14er in Colorado. Its class 1 route is a hike from the trailhead all the way to the summit. From there you can take the ridge over to Torreys Peak, or save it for another day. The approach road here is much more rough than Mount Bierstadt, so bring a 4WD vehicle to avoid an extra hike to the trailhead. In winter, this route does include some avalanche risk on Kelso Ridge, so research and take the winter variation straight up the gulch. Click here for route info.
Mount Evans features a road all the way to the summit, but the hike up from the Summit Lake Park is still a fun route that takes you to the summit in a circuitous way along major ridges and along the west ridge. There’s even a bathroom at the summit for those who dislike that part of 14er climbing. Pair this with a climb of the Mt Bierstadt Sawtooth route if you are looking for something class 3 difficulty, another great route for the best 14ers near Denver. Click here for route info.
Torreys Peak can be climbed using the standard approach up Grays Peak, described above. However if the weather is good, and you’re in good shape, I recommend the approach via the continental divide from the west. Starting at Loveland Pass, ascend towards Mt Sniktau, over to Grizzly Peak, and then up to Torreys, with an optional traverse to Grays as well. This is a long, hard climb with lots of exposure and few places to bail, so wait for an ideal weather window for your attempt. Click Here for Route Info.
Longs Peak is the only class 3 peak on the list of best 14ers near Denver – it’s the only one in the entire Front Range. It’s an imposing route, 12 miles round-trip that requires a daunting 2am start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Hiking up to the Keyhole, before scrambling along the exposed ledges section, up the trough gully, and through the narrows, a section of sheer cliffs. Finally, scramble up the sheer homestretch to reach the summit. This mountain has taken many lives, so don’t take it lightly. Pick an easier peak if you’re just starting, and work up to it over time. However, overall, this is my favorite of the best 14ers near Denver. Click here for route info.
A Longer Drive Provides Far More Options
All five of these mountains offer a great mountain experience within a 2-hour drive Denver. But even the best 14ers near Denver can’t compare to some of the other mountains in the state. Consider a few alternatives that are a bit further away – they are often worth it!
Mount of the Holy Cross offers two great routes. The standard scramble includes a great opportunity for an overnight at Holy Cross creek before summiting the next day. It isn’t one of the best 14ers near Denver, but it would be if it were closer! Click here for route info.
Mount Massive has more area above 14,000 feet than any other mountain in the lower 48 states. The standard route up its southeast slopes is great for either a day trip or an overnight adventure, with plenty more 14ers like Mount Elbert nearby. Click here for route info.
Humboldt Peak - 3 Hours, 15 Minutes from Denver
Humboldt is a more challenging peak, with a long approach hike up to the south colony lakes. However this is a true wilderness adventure, with many miles separating you from civilization, and a pure mountain basin to enjoy. It isn’t one of the best 14ers near Denver, but it’s certainly one of the best far away from it. Click here for route info.
The Best 14ers Near Denver: Get Ready to Go!
As you can see, the best 14ers near Denver include some great options, like Longs Peak, Mount Evans and others. However, there are even better options with far fewer people if you’re willing to drive just a bit further. Regardless of what peak you choose, make sure you plan ahead and research your route to boost your chances of a safe and successful summit. Safe travels on the trails – enjoy these best 14ers near Denver!
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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.