Mount Bierstadt is considered one of the most accessible 14ers in Colorado, nearby Denver and well maintained, but that doesn’t mean it’s a stroll in the park. You’ll climb over 2,700′ over the course of just over three miles, including a boulder scramble up the final stretch to the peak.
Getting to the Trailhead
The trail begins at Guanella Pass, about an hour from Denver and 11.5 miles south of Georgetown. There is a no-fee parking lot as well as off-street parking. There are pit toilets at the trailhead parking, but people were waiting 30-40 minutes in line to use them. And most of the trail is completely exposed with no privy privacy. You’ve been warned.
Get driving directions to the Guanella Pass Trailhead via Google Maps.
Hiking to the Summit of Mount Bierstadt
The trail starts with a gentle warm-up, as you pass Deadman’s Lake and descend to Scott Gomer Creek. Keep your eyes peeled for moose and other wildlife.
There is no way to cross the creek without getting wet. We hiked about 30 yards upstream to a more shallow section, and the ice-cold water still came up to our knees. Most people will take their hiking shoes off for the crossing.
From here, the trail climbs steadily. About two miles in you traverse a rocky bench where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a mountain goat.
Above the bench, the trail makes a bee-line to the saddle to the southwest side of Mount Bierstadt. It’s straight-forward hiking.
From the saddle, the final 1/4 mile to the summit requires following rock cairns up the steep talus- and boulder-strewn slope. There is no well-defined path through this ever changing landscape of rock, but when in doubt, head up.
The summit rewards you with spectacular views of Mount Evans and the sawtooth ridge that connects it to Bierstadt, as well as Grays Peak and Torrey Peak to the west. There is room at the top to break for lunch, an summit benchmark and a register to sign.
To return, retrace your steps. Take care to properly orient yourself as you descend to the saddle.
Mount Bierstadt Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Mount Bierstadt Tips & Resources
- At the time of writing, no permits were required.
- If possible, avoid hiking this on weekends or holidays when it can get quite crowded. For the same reason, please stay on the trail and follow Leave No Trace principles.
- This trail has spectacular wildflowers.
- Be prepared for cold air and windy conditions.
- Bring plenty of water, sun protection, and the other ten essentials. This hike is entirely above the tree-line.
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and plan to summit by noon. Afternoon lightning storms are a very real risk.
Idaho Springs Weather Forecast
Tuesday 12/11 0%
Partly cloudy. Lows overnight in the low 30s.
Wednesday 12/12 50%
Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will give way to occasional snow showers in the afternoon. High around 45F. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Thursday 12/13 0%
Mainly sunny. High 34F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Friday 12/14 0%
Sunny skies. High 49F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.
The Colorado Rockies Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge
Mount Bierstadt is part of the Colorado Rockies Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, a self-paced hiking challenge that takes you up six, iconic peaks–each one a bit higher and tougher.
It’s a challenge in itself, or great training for still bigger adventures. Learn more and sign-up here.
Originally hiked on July 15, 2017.