Have you been bitten by the climbing bug? Are you looking to get into mountaineering? If so, you should know about the Colorado and California easiest 14ers. These are some of the best mountains to climb and feature some of the most beautiful rocks and lakes. There is so much to look forward to with a trek around the 14ers. They’ll give you an incredible climbing experience with most beautiful beautiful sights all around, from the amazing Mount Whitney switchbacks to the gorgeous views at extremely high peaks, to beautiful lakes and treelines. You may even be lucky enough to see some mountain goats on some of the smaller peaks, and depending on which of the 14ers you choose to climb, you might spot a breathtaking lake or two.
A Bit About The 14ers
To qualify as one of the 14ers, a peak must be 300 feet above the saddle that connects it to the next peak. If you’re not too sure what a saddle is, it is basically the part of a land that exists between two peaks and is usually much lower than the peaks themselves. Many of the trails have a series of well-marked switchbacks to keep you on track during your hike. Some other perks are that most of the 14ers also have a parking lot nearby and public restrooms available for use, and others even have a road that you can drive up some of the ways.
There are so many different climbs to choose from ranging from difficult to easy, so everyone can find a perfect trail for them among the 14ers. So, if you’re looking for a beautiful climbing experience, then get yourself to the trailhead of one of the 14er’s summits and embark on an amazing journey. Whether you’re an experienced outdoor climber, a well-traveled mountaineer who loves the California and Colorado 14ers, or a total newbie, read on to find out about the easiest 14ers and how to prepare for your climb.
Two of the Easiest 14ers to Climb in Colorado
Gray’s Peak – 14,270 feet
Climbing Grays Peak is great for beginners because it is an easy climb with a trail that has been well traveled right from the trailhead all the way to the end. The walk around Grays Peak is a total of 8.6 miles and takes around 5-7 hours to walk the full trail. The elevation gain at Grays Peak is 2,939 feet, and the route welcomes dogs, so you can take your furry friends with you on this journey. You’ll even find bathrooms in the Grays Peak parking lot and camping spots along the way. A trusty tent would be perfect to bring along for anyone who wants to take advantage of camping at Grays Peak. There are also some beautiful lakes situated around Grays Peak which make for some lovely photo opportunities. The best time of year to walk this route is late June to early October based on the weather conditions and safety levels.
Torrey’s Peak – 14, 267 feet
While Torrey’s peak is the 12th highest fourteener by elevation, it’s another gentle climb that’s relatively short, and if you like spending time with other hiking and climbing enthusiasts, this is a great place to be. Hundreds of people are on these trails during the summer months.
There is a parking lot nearby is just off of the road, so the trail is easily accessible to all who want to explore Torrey’s Peak. Mountaineers should keep a lookout for mountain goats along this trail, as well as a number of other wonderful natural sights such as mule deer, American red squirrels, and a beautiful array of colorful flowers.
Both Grays Peak and Torrey’s Peak can be paired together if you desire a longer hike. These two peaks are connected via a ridge with has a path, climbing them one after the other is a great option for those wanting to extend their adventure. This is especially true for beginners who are looking to improve their current hiking abilities and work on going further distances.
California 14ers: Which Ones to Climb If You’re a Beginner
Most of the California 14ers are an excellent option for beginners and experienced climbers alike. In fact, the youngest ages recorded for these peaks are an 8-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, which can help to give you an idea of how beginner-friendly these 14ers are. That being said, the below are two of the shortest 14er peaks for ultimate ease.
*Please note that elevation and climbing difficulty are two very different things.
Thunderbolt Peak – 14, 003 feet
If you’re looking for some multiple climbing options, this mountain will provide them. You can climb a long, aesthetic ridge or one of several alpine couloirs.
While the elevation is the shortest of the California 14ers, the climbing difficulty of this peak has been rated at Class 3 – 5.9, which is one of the highest and, therefore, more difficult 14ers for some people.
Mount Tyndall – 14, 018 feet
Mount Tyndall is somewhat easier – both in elevation and difficulty (it’s a Class 2-3 climb). You have some options with this climb as well, like technical rock climbs as well as a scrambling route. There are also switchbacks along the journey to make for an interesting journey.
Which One Is Easiest to Climb in Colorado?
Mount Bierstadt – 14,060 feet
This is a gentle, easy peak situated closely to its more famous sister peak, Mount Evans, where mountain goats are often sighted. It is located near Idaho Springs and enjoys more new ascenders than almost any other 14er.
The journey is 7 miles round trip from the trailhead and includes an elevation gain of 2,700 feet. It features some well-marked switchbacks to get you warmed up for the climb ahead. This particular journey is nice and easy for beginners because it has a clear trail that leads all the way to the summit and only has a subtle, gradual incline. You can drive to this mountain easily and leave your car in the parking lot, so it is one of the most easily accessible of the 14ers.
This climb is a very easy one and is therefore much more suitable for beginners than it is for those experienced in hiking. If you are looking for a tougher journey, one of Mount Bierstadt’s sister peaks may be more suitable. These also feature some beautiful lakes around for breathtaking views.
If you’re not sure on which peak is right for you, here is a list of five of the mildest Colorado 14ers from easiest to hardest. Hopefully, this will help you consider your options and decide which peak would be best for your abilities and goals:
- Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet elevation gain)
- Grays Peak (14,270 feet elevation gain)
- Quandary Peak (14,265 feet elevation gain)
- Torrey’s Peak (14,267 feet elevation gain)
- Mount Elbert (14,433 feet elevation gain)
Where is The Safest 14er to Climb in Colorado?
Garden of The Gods
The Garden of the Gods is a small park situated near Colorado Springs, and the trailhead is right off the US highway 24 with a parking lot for convenience. The park is beautiful, with red sandstone rocks that are very memorable and make for great photo opportunities. This incredible park is very well developed and features a number of cement trails. Although the climbs are not steep, it is still a fun adventure for anyone who is looking to get into hiking. It is one of the safest trails in Colorado, and therefore can be quite busy, particularly on weekends and during holidays.
Keep in mind that it is also possible to drive some of the 14ers, which may be a safer option if you’re worried about hiking. American basin is a perfect example. This is a traffic trail that takes you to the top of Handies Peak. However, American basin can get pretty muddy, so a 4WD car is advised for this journey.
Properly Prepare to Climb the California and Colorado 14ers
Though the 14ers listed above are some of the easiest, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience any difficulties.
Anything past 8,000 feet will start affecting your body because of the reduced amount of oxygen available at these elevations. Even the most experienced climbers are subject to high-altitude cerebral and pulmonary edemas that are potentially fatal.
Before you even start your climb, make sure to spend some time hiking at other higher altitudes than you’re used to – around 7,000 feet is best – to get your body conditioned.
If, while climbing one of the 14ers, you get a headache, light-headedness, or nausea, be quick to take action and start retreating to a lower altitude right away.
Of course, before you start climbing any of the 14ers in Colorado or California, you’ll also need to get into shape. Both cardio and weight training exercises are vital for climbers. Weight training does this by increasing the strength of your muscles, which will help you better be able to pull your body weight while you climbing. Cardio workouts will keep your heart healthy and prepare you for some of the heart-pounding moments that come with climbing.
Travel trekking poles can help greatly to ease the pain or stress on the body caused by climbing. They can help you with grip and can even ease the pressure on your muscles while making steep climbs.
It is also important to be aware of weather conditions before your trip. Rain and other certain weather conditions can affect your ability to walk, and long periods in the rain can cause health issues. As each peak is a wilderness area, it is also important to be aware of how different weather conditions can affect the surroundings. For example, wind is usually more of a problem on the higher peaks, so you’d want to know if it’s going to be particularly windy on the day you plan on hiking to a peak.
Do research on the various features of the available trails to make sure you find one that is best for you. For example, trails along the south face of the peak will be much more prone to sunlight and can affect you on your journey, like causing you to burn or overheat. However, some people prefer to take trails along the south face of the peak due to the views and better photo opportunities they offer. Just be aware of these options before your journey so that you can choose a route that suits you.
Once you’re ready to set out on your 14ers excursion, make sure you’re well stocked with food and water. You’ll be sweating a lot, too, so make sure to take along drinks that have electrolytes in them.
It is important to take relevant equipment with you. Wear a belt or bag in which you can pack items such as water bottles, snacks, and a small first aid kit. Don’t forget to pack your 14ers map and elevation gain map. There’s nothing like getting lost to take the joy out of your 14er experience. It might even be a good idea for friends and family back at home to have a map, too. That way if they don’t hear from you at a designated time, they’ll have an idea of where they or the authorities should look.
Also, be aware of where the nearest road is in case you need an easier route back or you lose your bearings.
With some training and preparation, you’ll be on your way to exploring some of the best Colorado and California 14ers.
14ers: The Gateway to Bigger and More Exciting Climbing Adventures
If you’ve developed a new itch to get climbing, the 14ers in Colorado and California are a great place to start practicing. These mountains will provide the training, adventure, and incredible views that will fuel your desire to continue climbing.
If you want to take climbing and mountaineering on the 14ers seriously, you may want to join the Colorado Mountain Club. This is made up of a massive group of people who all enjoy climbing, particularly the 14ers. Members can sign up for group hikes and trips, as well as various other activities such as group fishing, trail runners or photography.
Once you’ve completed the 14ers you’ve been dying to climb, you’ll be ready to climb higher, more complex mountains. And who knows? Your newfound love for climbing just might take you on adventures around the world. You may even want to take things to the next level and become a 14ers trail runner.
The mountains throughout California and Colorado are a great way to get your feet wet. Enjoy the training. Enjoy the process. And don’t ever forget why you’re doing this: to have some fun!