Grizzly Peak Route Guide | A Great Centennial 13er
Grizzly Peak is Colorado’s tallest thirteener, just 12 feet short of being considered a fourteener. The standard way to climb the peak up the east ridge is a difficult class 2+ scramble, but it’s a relatively short 6 mile round-trip. It’s a good intermediate thirteener, but remember that you may be alone out there, so bring a partner if you can and plan ahead thoroughly with my Grizzly Peak Route Guide below. Safe travels on the trail!
Grizzly Peak Route Guide Fast Facts
Grizzly Peak Route Guide - East Ridge
Park near the gate, and follow the old mining road into McNasser Gulch. The view soon opens up and you get your first look at Grizzly Peak rising above you to the west. After a mile and a half, near 11,900 feet, switchback up to an old mining area. The road ends here around 12,100 feet. Hike out of the mining area west and continue moving west/northwest. Aim towards Grizzly Peak. As you hike, gradually ascend the slope on the north side of McNasser Gulch.
Near, 12,600 feet, ascend northwest into rocky terrain. Near 12,800 feet, turn north to climb through the rocks. Above 13,100 feet, the climbing becomes easier but the slope is scree-covered and rather unpleasant. Continue north to reach the saddle between Grizzly Peak (left) and unnamed point 13,441 feet.
While you can see the summit, you need to overcome three remaining objectives: large rock gendarmes Continue a short distance along the east ridge to reach the first gendarme. Keep left of the crest of the ridge to reach an easier section before the second gendarme. Ascend nearly to the top of this one to regain the ridge crest beyond it. There’s a lot of scree and loose rock but you can easily keep the difficulty at Class 2+.
For the final gendarme, to keep the difficulty below Class 3, bypass it by hiking around to the lower left. If snow prevents you from going around the gendarme, you’ll have to climb onto it where the difficulty quickly becomes Class 3. Once beyond this section, ascend the remaining east ridge to reach the summit ridge.
From the north end of the summit ridge, the summit is only 0.2 mile to the south. Staying just below the ridge crest, hike toward the summit. If you find the terrain to be too difficult, descend slightly to the right (west). Bypass a notch before the summit and climb the final pitch to reach the top.
At the summit, enjoy your accomplishment and the views from Colorado’s tallest thirteener. Be sure you descend with plenty of time available to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you found my Grizzly Peak route guide helpful and informative. Save travels on the trail!
My Grizzly Peak Route Guide includes this topographical map of the trail and region. You can download this map on your phone or print out a copy to bring with you on your climb. Always bring some hardcopy map in case your digital version fails or breaks.
Use these two sources to check the weather conditions before your trip. Consider the temperature high and low, wind speed, precipitation, and whether there are any storm systems on the horizon to be aware of. No Grizzly Peak Route Guide is complete without weather forecasts.
Hiking & climbing 13ers is an inherently high-risk activity – use my Grizzly Peak route guide at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- 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.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
Hiking, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Grizzly Peak 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.
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.