Climbing Mount Bierstadt - Mount Evans Wilderness, Colorado
Updated: Aug 16
This is my only fourteneer I can brag about. My first and last one actually, since I don't want to climb another one. I'm not a "peak bagger". I just wanted to experience the climb and see what kind of a view you can find on top. I was hesitant, but as my husband says, Mount Bierstadt is the easiest climb among the 54 fourteneers in Colorado, and so we did it. This is also a popular trail since it’s close to Denver. Until recently, Bierstadt was considered the most climbed fourteener in the state. In late summer 2019 it was surpassed by Quandary Peak in the Mosquito Range near Breckenridge.
TO GET HERE
To get to the trailhead, take the Georgetown exit off of Interstate 70. Drive through Georgetown and follow the signs for the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. After about 12 miles you will reach two parking lots, located on each side of the road. The trail to Bierstadt begins near the parking area on the east side. Both parking areas have restrooms, just in case you need one before tackling the climb.
CLIMBING MOUNT BIERSTADT – 8 miles round-trip
Near the parking lot you will find a pond with a beautiful view. It's a nice detour before tackling the climb to Mount Bierstadt. When Hermann hiked here way before this trail got popular, he had to wade through wet/boggy terrain and thick willows. Today, the trail has a boardwalk along some parts of the trail so you can't complain about getting your boots wet.
You don't need a GPS to navigate this trail, just follow the crowd. The trail passes a creek, and more willows, before the trail goes uphill. On the last leg to the summit, the trail is rocky and steep; it's an ankle breaker, so you have to be careful. Wearing hiking boots saved me from any accident and is always recommended.
Upon reaching the summit, you might have to wait for your turn to take pictures. Everybody does it. Well, you have to, it's an accomplishment. When we were there, somebody brought along a paper with the name of Mt. Bierstadt, the date and the elevation written on it. Some people just think of everything to make their experience memorable, don't they? The sign was passed around so that we had proof that we summited.
No need to bring your tripod here; fellow hikers will offer to take your pictures. No need to take "selfies" either, unless you want to. We chose a perfect day when we climbed Mt. Bierstadt. It was chilly at the top but sunny. It was a fun climb I should say.
From the top there's a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. It is spectacular, but I still prefer the views down below. You can't stay long up there, the chilly wind is not so nice and there is nothing to shield you from the wind.
Wilderness Areas have special regulations, check the U.S. Forest Service for information. Check with Idaho Springs Visitors Center or Colorado Department of Transportation for road conditions.
The Mount Evans Road and Scenic Byway (Colorado Highway 5) is usually open from Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the first weekend in October, depending on weather conditions. The road and access to the top of Mount Evans is closed at Summit Lake the day after Labor Day.
Weather conditions can change, even in summer, so come prepared. The best way is to dress in layers, it's easier to take it off when it gets warm or put it on when it gets chilly, hail, rain or extreme wind. Watch out for afternoon summer thunderstorms - they are common here and you don't want to be caught outside in one at this altitude.
Vehicles over 30' long are not recommended on Highway 5 (Mount Evans road) due to the steep, narrow, winding road.
OTHER NEARBY WILDERNESS YOU CAN EXPLORE:
Lost Creek Wilderness