Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  09/27/2011
Date Climbed:   09/22/2011
Author:  e_rock1111

 Mt. Belford and Oxford back through Elkhead Pass  

My father-in-law (byteman) has done this hike justice with his great trip report, but I thought I would add in my two cents and some pictures.

Byteman and I met up early in the morning at the Park 'n Ride at Indian Hills. I will say this was the most difficult Park 'n Ride to find. In the early morning glow, the only thing marking it's location was a haze of street lights. We hit the road to Buena Vista around 6:20 and reached the trail head at 8:40. The road up to the Missouri Gulch was one of the best maintained dirt roads I have seen. Easy to navigate and no worries about damaging the car.

After putting on some screen and fixing the mess of my water bottle leaking, we hit the trail at 8:50. It was a later start than we had anticipated, but the weather out was beautiful for late September. We quickly came across the bridge for Clear Creek and I will say that is an appropriately named body of water. After the bridge the up hill began. It is a pretty steep climb with lots of switch backs. Luckily the aspens were treating us to some great colors and the trail had great footing all the way up.

After about 50 minutes of hiking we reached the remnants of the old shack. There were two tents set up around the area. Image
Me standing next to the shack

We turned left and went up a short rise. Belford finally came into view after the rise. Light snow speckled the mountains, but nothing that made the trek dangerous. Image
Our first view of Mt. Belford

The trail continued into some smaller willows and grassy areas. After a little while we came to the split for the trail and headed to the right for Mt. Belford. Quickly, we were gaining altitude. The ridgeline has tons of switch backs, easing the load, but it is definitely steep.Image
The trail up Mt. Belford

We continued to zig-zagging up the ridge. Enduring what looked like areas where it was leveling out, but up it went.Image
Looking down at my Father-in-law. He was about 15 steps below me.

The steep grade is definitely doable though, thanks to great trails that included many steps to climb up. We finally reached the summit at 12:15, sucked in some air, ate some food and snapped some pictures.Image
On Belford looking towards Oxford

Before we headed out we talked to two other hikers that just made the traverse over to Oxford. We gathered some tips and headed out. We walked along the ridge and took the turn towards the very steep decline towards Oxford. The trail was pretty muddy here from the melting snow. It took a little more maneuvering to make sure you didn't slide too far. After we hit the saddle, the incline became very steep again.

We reached the summit in pretty good time, at 2PM. We again sucked in some air, ate some food and snapped some summit pics.Image
On Oxford looking back towards the trail and Belford

The trail back was again steep and muddy. This section back towards Belford was definitely the toughest. We took quite a few breathers, but eventually made it to the top. We went to the left once on top the ridge to scout out Missouri Mountain. At this time, we were still thinking about going for it.

The trail to Elkhead Pass was nice and gentle, which was a relief after the steep inclines of Belford and Oxford. After losing altitude we made it to Elkhead Pass. We continued on our way back towards the trail junction for Missouri Mountain. We sat at the trail for some time and contemplated the time frame to climb Missouri and get back to the car. After deliberating, we decided to save it for another day. We were pretty beat and would be traveling by head lamp back to the car. Image
Looking up towards Missouri. It was tempting.

We hiked back through Missouri Gulch, which again was a great trail. We passed through a few willows and made our way through a few smaller stream crossings. After a while we reached were the trail split for Belford. Two guys were there, finding places to set up shop for the night to tackle Belford in the morning.

We talked to them and offered a few pointers and continued on our way back to the car. The hike down was pretty uneventful, just lots of elevation loss and some tough times for your knees. I would definitely recommend trekking poles for this hike. We reached the car by about 6:45 and had a nice drive back to Denver.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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