Mt. Bierstadt Trail on Guanella Pass
Summit a Fourteener, Mount Bierstadt, or go for an easy hike with your family high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. In short, you’ve got options on this trail near the top of Guanella Pass. Explore the trail profile below for hiking, camping, and trail map info.
- Hike Distance: 1 to 7 Miles (RT)
- Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
- Duration: 1 to 6 hours
- Trail Type: Out & Back
- Elevation Gain: up to 2400′
- Seasons: Best Late Spring to Fall
- Dogs: Allowed on Leash (avoid b/c of fragile ecosystem)
You’ve got options with the Mount Bierstadt trail. First, we’ll profile the hike to the summit. Below that, you’ll find some information on how to just explore the area with your family or friends, making this an easy hike high in the Colorado mountains.
Climb Your First Colorado Fourteener
Mt. Bierstadt is popular, not just because it’s so close to Denver, but it’s also one of the easier and more accessible of Colorado’s 54 fourteen thousand foot peaks. The Mount Bierstadt trail can be accessed on the south side of Guanella Pass from the Mt Bierstadt trailhead (click here for map and directions from Denver). It’s important to be aware that the weather can change in an instant in the mountains, and that snow can come in fast even in the late Spring and early Fall. As with any Day Hike, be sure to (at least) pack the 10 Essentials.
The Bierstadt trail is well marked; you’ll follow signs down to a boardwalk, then to Scott Gomer Creek. After crossing the creek, the trail will become more steep, and the steepness will increase as you make your way to the summit. The trail winds gently through the tundra until you are about three miles in when the green and brown gives way to rock. Follow the west ridge up to the summit of Mount Bierstadt. For a detailed trace and profile of the Mt.Bierstadt route, see this Route #1 Bierstadt profile on 14ers.com.
Make it an Easy Family Hike
Hiking Colorado’s Bierstadt trail doesn’t mean that you have to summit. In fact, the first mile of trail is really tame. It takes you over a creek, through willows, and by two small high mountain lakes. If you want to gain additional views, you can add another half mile of moderate hiking that will take you above the valley floor.
We took our 4 1/2 year old, 2 year old with us in the Fall and they loved it. Dog’s on the Mount Bierstadt trail must be kept on a leash and need to be kept 100′ from water sources (in short, they aren’t allowed to play in the lakes and streams). In fact, because we’d recommend that you leave Fido at home because of the fragile alpine tundra ecosystem. In August of 2012, Missy, a German Shepherd, was rescued after being stranded on the peak for eight days. You can read more about her ordeal and the rescue in this Denver Post article.
Camping Near the Mt. Bierstadt Trail
There are a lot of campground sites along both sides of Guanella pass that are managed by the forest service (fee required) and dispersed camping is allowed on US Forest and wilderness areas. Below you’ll find a few important links to camping information for the Mt. Bierstadt and Guanella Pass Area.
- Mt. Evans Wilderness Hiking and Camping Regulations.
- Camping Information and Regulations for the US Forest Service
- Guanella Pass Campground
- Burning Bear Campground Near Mt. Bierstadt Trail: Jennifer Mason does a nice job profiling both the Burning Bear and Whiteside campgrounds on her site.
- For More Campgrounds along Guanella Pass, use the Recreation.gov site and do a search for Guanella Pass Road
- Go Early; the parking lot at the Mt. Bierstadt Trailhead fills fast.
- If you’ve never summited a 14er before, be sure to read this great article by Lindsey Koehler of 5280 Magazine.
- If you plan to summit Mount Bierstadt, start early so that you can be back at the trailhead before the almost daily summer thunderstorms role in. I’d recommend starting around 6am, so that you’re back at your car around 11am.
- Hiking times vary. Those who frequently make the assault on Mt. Bierstadt (even trail run it), can make it up and back in 3 hours. The average is 5hrs, but adjust for experience and how good of shape you’re in
- The weather will be cooler at the trailhead than the posted Georgetown, Colorado temperature below. It will be even cooler at the summit of Mt. Beirstadt.
- Mt. Evans Hike and Summit Lake
- Chicago Lakes Hike: A 12 Mile hike to some high mountain lakes near Denver.
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