Of all the questions asked online about 14ers, this is the most common. “What is the easiest 14er in Colorado to hike?” Thankfully, the answer is fairly easy to answer: According to my ranking, Handies Peak is the easiest 14er. However, it’s located deep in the San Juan range, far from population centers. Therefore, we’ll cover the three easiest 14ers, which includes Grays Peak and Quandary Peak as well, both much closer to Denver and the Front Range.
Handies may be the easiest of all the 14ers, but there’s still a lot going for this San Juan Range peak. Far from Colorado’s population centers, you’ll find solitude and a good trail on this Class 1 route. You’ll won’t find a shorter route, or one with less elevation gain, than this one! Of all the Colorado 14ers ranked by difficulty, it is the easiest.
If you don’t have four wheel drive and good clearance, you’ll need to add 2 miles roundtrip to your hike. If that’s not possible, consider Quandary Peak lower on the list for your first ascent.
Grays Peak is among the most popular 14ers in the state. This make sense as it’s the second easiest peak in the state, and it’s also only an hour drive from the Denver Metro area. You can also add the more difficult Torreys Peak, a Class 2 14er, to make this a double ascent day.
Keep in mind that to reach the upper trailhead, you will need four wheel drive and good clearance. Otherwise add 3 miles to your trip, unless you can hitch a ride there or back. The lot here fills very fast, so plan for an early start. Don’t park along the road – you may come back to a ticket on your windshield.
Quandary’s East Ridge is a classic 14er, and the easiest ridge Route you can take. With rewarding views along the entire route above tree-line, it’s a great first climb. For that reason, it’s also a very busy route. Don’t expect much solitude here.
One of the great things about Quandary is that it provides a harder, Class 3 climb on it’s opposite West Ridge. If you have friends looking for a bigger challenge, they can start from the West, while you take the easier eastern route. You’ll both be able to meet at the summit and descend via the East Ridge. There are even steep snow climbs on gullies to the North and South. Quandary has something for everyone!
What is the Easiest 14er in Colorado to Hike? Handies Peak!
Handies, Grays or Quandary Peak – the three easiest 14ers in Colorado to climb. While you asked for one, this gives you three extremely comparable trips, spread throughout three of Colorado’s ranges. What do you think? What is the easiest 14er in Colorado to hike in your opinion? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
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.