There are 58 peaks in the state of Colorado that rise above 14,000 feet, and hardcore hikers add all 58 summits to their bucket list. There are a few extremely popular mountains to climb in Colorado’s Rockies, and on a Saturday morning in the summertime you’ll find yourself surrounded with fellow trekkers on the same mission as you. These peaks are favored because of the ease to get to the trailhead and less harsh of the hike to the top. Mountains like, Greys, Torreys, Quandary, and Evans are great, but we’re going to tell you about our favorite overlooked 14’ers to take on this year.
1. San Luis Peak | San Juan Mountains
At 14,022 feet, San Luis Peak is located in the Gunnison National Forrest. Unlike other 14’ers in the San Juan Mountains, San Luis has more of a wild feeling due to the isolation that is felt for those who summit it. Almost no man-made structures are in view from the top, making hikers feel like they are deep in the backcountry. Among the two routes to the top, there are creek crossings and grassy fields of wild flowers for enjoyment on your way to the top.
2. Longs Peak | Front Range
Located in the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak tops out at 14,259 feet. The 14-mile round trip often scares travelers away, and only about half of those who start the trail make it to the summit. After about a 5-mile approach, you come to the “keyhole” and start a scramble the rest of the way up. For many, this is more than they bargained for. We wouldn’t suggest taking on Longs Peak for your first 14er, but the rewarding 360 views at the top above Rocky Mountain National Park should definitely be put into consideration when planning your hikes for the year.
3. Uncompahgre Peak | San Juan Mountains
At 14,321 feet, Uncompahgre Peak is the highest point in the San Juan Mountains. Uncompahgre is an Ute word loosely translated to “red water spring” and is probably a reference to the springs located not far away in Ouray, Colorado. One thing that makes this a beautiful mountain to hike is its rolling fields of lush, deep green grass, which grows because the San Juan Mountains receive more rainfall than most other peaks in the state.
4. Crestone Needle | Sangre de Cristo Range
Found in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Crestone Needle reaches 14,203 feet. A well-maintained trail is easy to follow until you reach the final stretch of the hike, where you’ll have to work your way up to the summit via the easiest looking route. The structure of this mountain and surrounding vistas will give you a surreal feeling once you catch the views from the top. Be aware: this is considered one of the most difficult 14er’s to climb in Colorado, so conquer a handful of easier ones prior to taking on Crestone Needle.
5. Blanca Peak | Sangre de Cristo Range
Also found in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this peak reaches 14,351 feet. This hike is one of our favorites because of the environmental diversity you see while hiking. From desert tundra at the start of the ascent, to lush alpine lakes closer to the peak, this is one beautiful hike. Be sure to pack plenty of food, water, and clothing if you’re wanting to defeat this 14er in one day, as this out-and-back is nearly 20 miles long.
Venture away from the most popular trails this summer and take some day trips to the 14er’s less traveled. Less people, longer trails, and greater challenges make these five 14er’s perfect for those who are longing to go explore. Not too keen on heights? Call Colorado River Rentals today and get your gear lined up for this year’s river adventures!
*Featured image courtesy of Summit Post.