HIKE TO: Mount Bierstadt 14,065 ft TRAIL: Mt Bierstadt Trail (West Slope Route) TRAILHEAD: Guanella Pass MILES: 7.25 miles out and back TIME: 3.5 hrs DATE I WENT: 8/15/23 DIFFICULTY: moderate ELEVATION GAIN: 2,430 ft HIKE PERMIT: free at trailhead LOCATION: Mount Evans Wilderness Area, Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado
Easiest 14er in Colorado
Mount Bierstadt sits at an elevation of 14,065 ft in the Rocky Mountains – It is considered one of the easiest 14er in Colorado and therefore one of the most popular 14er that attracts people of all hiking levels. The West Slope is the most common route but there are multiple routes to reach the summit including skiing routes.
Although this peak is considered one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado, it should not be taken lightly – the trail still has an elevation gain of 2,430 ft in 3.625 miles at a high altitude.
If you’re looking to hike another easy Colorado 14er, click here to read the hike to Mount Evans from Summit Lake. It’s actually really close to Mount Bierstadt on the map but the easy approach is from a different parking area. There is also the Sawtooth Ridge that connects the two peaks but it’s a class 3 route and not beginner-friendly.
How long does it take to hike Mt Bierstadt?
That depends on your pace, of course, but it took us 2 hours to hike up and 1.5 hour to hike down. Although the West Slope route is a class two climb, the entire hike was not as much of a slog as I expected. It is a well-maintained trail for the entirety of the hike until the last quarter mile which requires more attention to stay on the used trail through the boulders.
Do you need a reservation for Mount Bierstadt?
An advance reservation is not needed to hike Mount Bierstadt but you do need to fill out a free self-issue permit at the trailhead.
When is the best time to hike Mount Bierstadt?
The best time to hike the West Slope of Mount Bierstadt is after the snow melts in early Summer and before the snow hits in the Fall. This is typically June/ July through September but can vary each year.
This hike is one of the easiest Colorado 14ers and therefore one of the busiest fourteeners. If you plan to go on a weekend, get there early to snag a parking spot. We went on a weekday late afternoon in the middle of summer and there was plenty of parking. As long as the weather is good and you have flexibility in your weekday schedule, I think an afternoon or sunset hike is a good option as opposed to dedicating a weekend for this hike.
Aside from getting a parking spot, you also want to go early in the summertime to avoid those afternoon thunderstorms. The hike is very exposed and not a place you want to be when lightning strikes.
Is Mt Bierstadt dog friendly?
Yes, Mount Bierstadt is a dog-friendly hike but dogs must be on a handheld leash.
What to pack to hike Mount Bierstadt
- Hiking boots and hiking socks
- Small day pack
- Water bottle
- Warm insulating jacket for the summit
- Light rain jacket in case there are thunderstorms
- Headlamp – it’s a good practice to always bring a headlamp on every hike, just in case
Mount Bierstadt Trailhead
Mount Bierstadt trailhead is located within the Mount Evans Wilderness in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. It’s about 13 miles from Georgetown at Guanella Pass. Note that this road is closed in the winter.
The parking lot sits at an elevation of 11,640 ft and there is an outhouse toilet at the trailhead.
Mount Bierstadt Hike
Mount Bierstadt Trail is the most common route to reach the summit of Mount Bierstadt; it’s also known as the West Slope route. The trail is 7.25 miles out and back.
The trail starts off fairly flat. From the parking lot, the trail goes up to the trail signs and then starts a very slight descent of 135 ft for about 0.8 miles until you reach Scott Gomer Creek. This is the only creek crossing and there are boulders for you to step across. This portion of the trail is mostly on a wooden planked boardwalk.
The rest of the trail is a gradual ascent gaining 2,565 ft of elevation in 2.825 miles.
The trail then follows a few switchbacks and at 1.69 miles when you exit all the shrubs and the trail widens, the elevation gain picks up. The trail is very easy to follow and you can see Mount Bierstadt peak the entire time.
At 3.34 miles when you reach the top of the ridge, the trail continues to your left with some class 2 scrambling to reach the summit. There is a used path you can follow or you can choose your own trail through the boulders. The summit is about a quarter of a mile away from here.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy the views and remember to hydrate before you head back down the same way. Remember, Mount Bierstadt is a high-altitude peak and the temperatures at the top are going to be very different than the bottom. On a summer evening hike, it gets cold at higher elevations so be prepared with the right layers.
Wildlife in Mount Evans Wilderness
Along the trail, you’ll probably see some mountain goats. We encountered eight of them on our hike – most of them were off to the side but one hung out in the middle of the trail so we waited for it to move. Encountering a majestic mountain goat is a thrilling experience, but it’s important to ensure both your safety and the well-being of these incredible creatures. If you find yourself in the presence of a mountain goat during your hike, remember to maintain a respectful distance. Keep at least 50 yards (150 feet) of space between you and the goat to prevent causing stress or aggression. Speak calmly and avoid sudden movements. If the goat approaches you, slowly move away and if it keeps coming, chase it off by yelling, waving your arms and clothing, or throwing rocks. Feeding or approaching the goat is strongly discouraged, as it can habituate them to human presence and alter their natural behaviors. Also, note that male goats can be more aggressive during their breeding season (Oct-Dec).
We also heard coyotes howling the entire hike down at sunset and saw a few marmots and deer.
What is the closest town to Mount Bierstadt?
Georgetown is the closest town to Mount Bierstadt but it’s a very small town. Idaho Springs may be the next larger town. All the restaurants close early here so if you are planning a sunset hike, have your dinner plans set out.
Places to Stay in Georgetown, CO
- Hotel Chateau Chamonix – this European-inspired boutique hotel is probably the best inn in Georgetown. It has private hot tubs, free continental breakfast, free wifi, freshly baked croissants, and amazing mountain views with an upstairs deck. Click here to book Hotel Chateau Chamonix.
- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Georgetown Lake – this standard hotel offers free breakfast free wifi, has a business center, is pet-friendly, and has clean modern rooms, some with mountain views. Click here to book the Microtel Inn.
Places to Stay in Idaho Springs
- The Silver Lake Lodge – This bed & breakfast has Tempurpedic beds and down comforters, cute rooms with a bit of a modern-rustic touch, free wifi, and even a game room. Click here to book the Silver Lake Lodge.
- Uplift Inn – this small hotel has 9 very spacious rooms with a modern style at an affordable price. It’s pet-friendly, clean, free wifi, and the rooms have blackout curtains with mountain views. Click here to book the Uplift Inn.
Mount Bierstadt Camping / Camping Near Mount Bierstadt
Camping along the road is only allowed in designated campgrounds and there are two campgrounds you pass on the way up from Georgetown to Guanella Pass (Mt Bierstadt trailhead): Guanella Pass Campground and Clear Lake Campground.
Things to do near Idaho Springs
Other Colorado Hikes You Might Like
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