Summiting all of the Colorado 14ers’ mountain peaks is a goal of many serious hikers and aspiring mountaineers. But if peak-bagging the entire list feels daunting, consider prioritizing the 11 best 14ers in Colorado.
I’m a Colorado local who, at the time of writing this article, has reached the summit of 14 Colorado fourteeners. Standing at the highest point of these mountains is the most exhilarating experience. On this list, you’ll find peaks ranging in various levels of difficulty for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
First time hiking a 14er? You might check out Laura’s list of the easiest 14ers instead!
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- What are 14ers?
- 11 Best 14ers in Colorado to Hike
- List of All Colorado 14ers
- FAQs About 14ers in Colorado
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What are 14ers?
14ers are mountain peaks reaching at least 14,000 feet in elevation. Some mountaineers also define 14ers by the “300-foot rule.” This means if a summit does not ascend at least 300 feet from a saddle shared with another mountain, it’s considered a sub-peak. Despite these nuances, the Colorado Geological Survey identifies 58 Colorado fourteeners. This is more than any other state in the country.
11 Best 14ers in Colorado to Hike
Prefer a video? Watch my video summary of the top Colorado 14ers:
North Maroon Peak
Elevation: 14,163 ft
Visible from Maroon Lake, the most photographed place in Colorado, North Maroon Peak is an iconic Colorado 14er. But despite its fame, it’s one of the least popular peaks to summit. Largely, this is due to the hiking trails’ difficulty. It ranks in the 10th percentile compared to other Colorado fourteeners.
Though non-technical, the standard route is a Class 4 climb reserved only for hikers with top-notch skill levels. To reach the summit, you must have endurance, know how to route-find, and be comfortable with high exposure. With an elevation gain of 4,500 feet, be sure to get an early start. Turn around before the second gully if afternoon storm clouds start to roll in!
Despite the long, rugged climb, the views and exhilaration of conquering this peak are worthwhile. While not for even intermediate hikers, North Maroon Peak is one to be inspired by and an epic adventure for those ready to take on the challenge.
Elevation: 14,440 ft
Hiking Mount Elbert is one of the best things to do in Leadville, the “Highest City in America.” Similarly, Elbert is famed for being the tallest mountain in Colorado.
It’s one of the ideal routes for those just starting to peak-bag Colorado 14ers. While no 14er is easy to summit, the standard route along the Northeast Ridge is rated Class 1. The hiking trail is obvious and no scrambling is required. However, with an elevation gain of 4,700 feet across 9.5 miles, it requires significant physical fitness.
Other routes to the peak of Mount Elbert include the East Ridge, Southeast Ridge, and Box Creek Couloirs. The last of these approaches is only accessible with stable spring snow and is a favorite among expert backcountry skiers.
👉 My Favorite Gear: If you’re interested in backcountry skiing, be sure to take an avalanche class and purchase the necessary safety gear. This Black Diamond set includes the bare essentials: a probe, shovel, and beacon.
La Plata Peak
Elevation: 14,343 ft
👇 Swipe to change photo
La Plata Peak is a personal favorite, being my first 14er to summit solo. Just south of Mount Elbert, it’s located between Leadville and Buena Vista. The trailhead is found on the scenic Independence Pass, one of the best road trips in Colorado.
The Northwest Ridge is the most popular route, having an elevation gain of 4,500 feet across 9.25 miles. The first couple of miles are mellow, but after traversing La Plata Gulch, the steep switchbacks prove challenging. Rated Class 2, some scrambling and navigating across loose rock is required to reach the summit.
Other routes include the Southwest Ridge, North Face (the winter route), and Ellingwood Ridge. If taking the Class 3 Ellingwood Ridge route, plan for a 12-hour trip. With a high commitment, keep your pack light but bring more water than you think may be necessary.
👉 My Favorite Gear: I love my lightweight and collapsible Platypus water bottle for these kinds of adventures!
Elevation: 14,351 ft
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Range, Blanca Peak is another one of the most frequently photographed Colorado 14ers. It’s visible from much of San Luis Valley and Great Sand Dunes National Park, one of the must-see destinations in Colorado.
The Northwest Ridge is the most popular trail, having a massive elevation gain of 6,500 feet. To reach the trailhead, turn onto Lake Como Road. 1.5-miles in, vehicles lacking 4WD and high clearance may begin to struggle. Those with the ability can park closer to the lake around the 3.25-mile marker.
Head up the road to Lake Como, then ascend to Crater Lake. From there, hike to the right of the ridge, avoiding steep, loose rock. While rated a difficult Class 2, Blanca Peak is right at the cusp of a Class 3 climb. Know your skill level and read trip reports before you go!
👉 Pro Tip: Just east of Lake Como lies a spur trail that extends to the top of Little Bear Peak, another 14er in the Sangre de Cristo Range. When you visit, consider bagging this one, too!
Elevation: 14,115 ft
At the summit of Pikes Peak, you’ll find a very different crowd than most other Colorado 14ers. This is because the highest point on this mountain can be reached by car. The Pikes Peak Highway is one of the best day trips from Colorado Springs, but for those looking to earn the views, a 24-mile hike awaits.
The Class 1 East Slopes route has a total elevation gain of 7,600 feet. Due to this and distance, most spend the night at Barr Camp, splitting the iconic Barr Trail into two days. The heat of the sun against the East Slopes also makes the hike challenging, so as with all Colorado 14ers, be sure to get an early start.
If you prefer day hiking over backpacking, consider the less popular Northwest Slopes route. Expect Class 2 difficulty, but a significantly shorter distance of 14 miles and a 4,300-foot elevation gain.
Elevation: 14,158 ft
Mt. Sneffels is located in the San Juans near Ouray, one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. It’s a favorite among peak baggers for its stunning views of Blue Lake Pass. While the elevation gain is relatively low at 3,400 feet (or less depending on where you park), it’s far from an easy trail. This rugged climb is only for those comfortable with long sections of exposed scrambling.
Reaching the Mt. Sneffels trailhead is an adventure in itself. Outside of Ouray, you travel along a dirt county road toward Yankee Boy Basin. 2WD vehicles should park at the junction found at the 6.7-mile marker. From here, the summit is 7.75-miles away. High clearance, 4WD vehicles may be able to reach the upper trailhead, shortening the hike to just 2.5 miles.
Enjoy hiking through one of the San Juans’ most beautiful wilderness areas, but note that as you near the summit, risk factors become more serious. If you struggle to reach Lavender Col., the saddle at 13,560 feet, turn around at this point. But for those brave and able to scramble up the gully, push to the summit! Views of the Wilson Group, as well as 13ers Dallas Peak and Gilpin Peak, await.
Elevation: 14,003 ft
With its highest point reaching 14,003 feet, Huron Peak just barely classifies as one of the Colorado 14ers. To reach the summit, most hikers take the Northwest Slopes route. Trail length and elevation gain are determined by how close you can get to the trailhead.
2WD vehicles should park at the Winfield lot, making the trek 10.75 miles with a 3,500-foot elevation gain. Some high clearance, 4WD vehicles can make it to the upper lot, shortening the hike to just 6.5-miles. Even if you have a smaller vehicle, you might get lucky and hitch a ride up the road as I did!
From the trailhead, you’ll hike switchbacks through the forested basin. Traversing the northern ridge, you’ll climb a steep pitch to the crux of the trail, meaning the most difficult section. Despite loose rock and moderate exposure, this Class 2 route is relatively low risk. In my opinion, Huron is one of the best 14er summits for new and intermediate hikers.
Elevation: 14,271 ft
Quandary Peak is another one of the more beginner-friendly 14er summits. Less than 2 hours from Denver with paved roads to the trailhead, it’s also one of the easiest to access. This makes Quandary a popular pick for winter hiking. Though you may posthole some, much of the East Ridge offers a solid boot pack. Backcountry skiers who haven’t yet invested in skins will appreciate the accessibility.
Hiking along the East Ridge, expect an elevation gain of 3,450 feet across 6.75 miles. From the trailhead, you’ll follow a well-established path through the White River National Forest. Above treeline, veer to the south (left) side of the trail, heading west to the summit. Note that if you’re hiking in winter, you’ll want to ascend the right slope, avoiding avalanche terrain.
At the top of one of Colorado’s most iconic 14er peaks, enjoy panoramic views, spotting Decalibron to the south. Keep an eye out for mountain goats roaming around the summit!
👉 My Favorite Gear: Want to get an early start on the season? Hike Quandary in the winter and spring with REI’s top-rated traction system. If you prefer something more affordable, check out my favorite budget pick from Yaktrax.
Elevation: 14,203 ft
Per a good friend who has summited nearly all of the Colorado 14er peaks, Crestone Needle stands out as one of the most challenging. The Class 3 climb is reserved for experts, having high exposure and requiring strong route-finding skills.
The approach to Crestone Needle follows much of the same route as South Colony Lakes, one of the top hikes in Colorado. Due to the rugged terrain, many vehicles park at the lower 2WD trailhead at 8,800 feet. From here, the trail length is 18 miles roundtrip. Some AWD vehicles may be able to reach the upper trailhead located at 9,900 feet, shortening the trip to 12 miles. The elevation gain to Crestone Needle is 5,550 feet or 4,400 feet, respectively.
Due to the length, camping within the basin is recommended. Many hikers camp here for days, peak bagging all the mountains within the Crestone Group. This includes Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Colombia Point. All are accessible from their unique trailheads. Technically, the Crestones Traverse allows you to bag two summits at once. But as a Class 5 climb, attempt this with extreme caution.
Grays Peak and Torreys Peak
Elevations: 14,278 ft. and 14,275 ft.
A combination route much less risky than the Crestones, Grays and Torreys Peaks are favorites among 14er hikers. Their shared trailhead is located just 1 hour 15-minutes from Denver, making it a popular ascent. As of summer 2021, parking along the road is no longer allowed, so be sure to get to the lot early before it fills up!
Beginning from the lot, cross the obvious bridge and head into Stevens Gulch. Looking west, Grays Peak comes into view. Ascend switchbacks and traverse a narrow ridge until you reach the junction at 13,300 feet, then turn left towards Grays. After summiting, hike the saddle between these two peaks, then rise up the southwest ridge to the top of Torreys.
This Class 2 climb gains roughly 3,600 feet in elevation across 8.25 miles. It’s a great two-in-one route with a range of terrain and fun scrambling. Though the trail is obvious, always pack the ten essentials and start early!
List of All Colorado 14ers
That’s the best 14ers in Colorado! But what about all of them?
The following table shows lists all 58 of the named 14ers in Colorado:
|Rank||Name||Elevation (feet)||Range||Google Maps|
|1||Mount Elbert||14,440 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|2||Mount Massive||14,428 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|3||Mount Harvard||14,421 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|4||Blanca Peak||14,351 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|5||La Plata Peak||14,343 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|6||Uncompahgre Peak||14,321 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|7||Crestone Peak||14,300 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|8||Mount Lincoln||14,293 ft||Mosquito Range||Map|
|9||Castle Peak||14,279 ft||Elk Mountains||Map|
|10||Grays Peak||14,278 ft||Front Range||Map|
|11||Mount Antero||14,276 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|12||Torreys Peak||14,275 ft||Front Range||Map|
|13||Quandary Peak||14,271 ft||Mosquito Range||Map|
|14||Mount Blue Sky||14,271 ft||Front Range||Map|
|15||Longs Peak||14,259 ft||Front Range||Map|
|16||Mount Wilson||14,252 ft||San Miguel Mountains||Map|
|17||Mount Shavano||14,231 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|18||Mount Princeton||14,204 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|19||Mount Belford||14,203 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|20||Crestone Needle||14,203 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|21||Mount Yale||14,200 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|22||Mount Bross||14,178 ft||Mosquito Range||Map|
|23||Kit Carson Mountain||14,171 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|24||Maroon Peak||14,163 ft||Elk Mountains||Map|
|25||Tabeguache Peak||14,162 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|26||Mount Oxford (Colorado)||14,160 ft||Collegiate Peaks||Map|
|27||Mount Sneffels||14,158 ft||Sneffels Range||Map|
|28||Mount Democrat||14,155 ft||Mosquito Range||Map|
|29||Capitol Peak||14,137 ft||Elk Mountains||Map|
|30||Pikes Peak||14,115 ft||Front Range||Map|
|31||Snowmass Mountain||14,099 ft||Elk Mountains||Map|
|32||Windom Peak||14,093 ft||Needle Mountains||Map|
|33||Mount Eolus||14,090 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|34||Challenger Point||14,087 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|35||Mount Columbia||14,077 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|36||Missouri Mountain||14,074 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|37||Humboldt Peak||14,070 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|38||Mount Bierstadt||14,065 ft||Front Range||Map|
|39||Sunlight Peak||14,065 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|40||Handies Peak||14,058 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|41||Culebra Peak||14,053 ft||Culebra Range||Map|
|42||Ellingwood Point||14,048 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|43||Mount Lindsey||14,048 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|44||Little Bear Peak||14,043 ft||Sangre de Cristo Range||Map|
|45||Mount Sherman||14,043 ft||Mosquito Range||Map|
|46||Redcloud Peak||14,041 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|47||Pyramid Peak||14,025 ft||Elk Mountains||Map|
|48||Wilson Peak||14,023 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|49||San Luis Peak||14,022 ft||La Garita Mountains||Map|
|50||Wetterhorn Peak||14,021 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
|51||Mount of the Holy Cross||14,011 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|52||Huron Peak||14,010 ft||Sawatch Range||Map|
|53||Sunshine Peak||14,007 ft||San Juan Mountains||Map|
FAQs About 14ers in Colorado
How many 14ers are there in Colorado?
There are 58 Colorado 14ers per the Colorado Geological Survey, more than any other state. But some mountaineers challenge this count, arguing the “300-foot rule.” It is estimated that as many as 6 of these mountains are technically sub-peaks.
What is the easiest 14er in Colorado?
The easiest 14er in Colorado is Mt. Sherman, in my opinion. Set within the Mosquito Range outside of Leadville, the 5.25-mile Class 2 climb has just an elevation gain of 2,100 feet. But like all 14ers, Mt. Sherman is more difficult during times of snowfall. Visit in the summer for the least challenging experience.
What is the most difficult 14er to climb in Colorado?
Experts believe that Capitol Peak is the most difficult 14er to climb in Colorado. This peak in the Elk Mountains is rated Class 5 with high exposure and rockfall potential. The shocking “Knife Edge” is the crux of the route, but all 17 miles of this trail are rough and reserved for veteran hikers.
Can you climb a 14er without training?
Some level of training is best before attempting to climb a 14er, in my opinion. While these mountains vary in length and difficulty, none of these peaks are easy to summit. You must be in decent shape to reach even the top of Mt. Sherman, the easiest 14er in Colorado. Along with that, you must be adjusted to the altitude and understand basic outdoor safety.
Thanks for reading our guide on the 11 best fourteeners in Colorado! Ranging in difficulty class and location, hopefully, we’ve helped identify some of the best peaks for you.
Before you go, be sure to check out our other guides for hiking enthusiasts!
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