Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Date Posted:  06/14/2020
Date Climbed:   06/14/2020
Author:  abenz92
 Missouri Mountain- NW Ridge   

I figured that I would add a trip report for Missouri Mountain (Northwest Ridge) since there don't seem to be any recent ones.

The Missouri Mountain Northwest Ridge trail can be accessed from the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, which is the same for Belford and Oxford. Interestingly enough, despite being named Missouri Gulch, the map/info at the trailhead talks a lot more about Belford and Oxford than Missouri, but the good news is that there is a clear trail all the way to the top of Missouri, despite what this map indicates. I would estimate that three out of four hikers at the trailhead are there for Belford and/or Oxford anyways.

The first few miles of the trail are shared with the standard route up Belford and Oxford. As soon as you start the trail be prepared for switchbacks, as the trail is steep for the first few miles. While still below treeline, before you reach the fork for the Belford/Oxford trails and Missouri trail you will pass through a large area that seems to have been decimated by a relatively recent avalanche. A little before you reach the fork after the avalanche field the trail levels out. At the fork, stay right for Elkhead Pass which is the right way, despite not mentioning Missouri Mountain. The next few miles are relatively flat until you reach another fork- this time Elkhead Pass is to the left and Missouri Mountain is to the right, as it is actually named on the sign this time. This is also about where the trail gets pretty strenuous again (around 12,400-12,500 feet).

From here to the ridge line is pretty vertical with some loose rock but nothing too bad. The final push to the ridge that leads to Missouri has some snow that you will have to trudge through, but this is probably several hundred feet at most and will be the most snow that you encounter unless it snows on Missouri again this summer. Looking up at the mountain from the Elkhead Pass/Missouri Mountain junction, Missouri looks intimidating, but once you reach the ridge it isn't too bad, as you will be traveling to the left when viewed from this junction. There are a few precarious spots especially with the snow that was on top of the ridge (we got there around 11:30 and it was kind of mushy and intermittent so I didn't use my microspikes) and the wind was brutal at times (in excess of 70 mph I estimate), but it is not too strenuous of a hike once you reach the ridge (20-40 minutes I would say to the summit, depending on pace).

Fortunately Missouri doesn't have many, if any false summits from this approach, and we were the only ones on the summit at about noon. We only stayed for about 10 minutes though, as the wind was brutal at times, as mentioned previously. Thus, our descent began back to trailhead. We heard conflicting reports about the summit and ridge/conditions (especially about the snow and wind) from people who were hiking down the mountain as my friend and I were hiking up, but we made it. We are both Missouri natives, so we were especially glad to have bagged this often overlooked peak.

At the time of writing I have done 18 14ers and this was one of the harder ones for sure. The first third of the trail from the parking lot is steep, while the middle is relatively flat, and the ascent from the Elkhead Pass/Missouri Mountain trail junction is steep as well. It is the road less traveled for sure and we encountered brutal wind at times, but it was worth it- I can confirm that you shouldn't have significant trouble finding the trail to the peak, despite this lacking on the map at the trailhead. All in all it took my friend and I about 7 hours and 45 minutes to summit Missouri and return to the trailhead. We started at 8:30 and ended around 3:00. We probably had an above average pace. Thank you for reading this and I hope that it is useful if you decide to hike Missouri, which is a cool mountain for sure.

Comments or Questions

06/15/2020 09:11
For the informative report!


This helped me summit today :)
06/15/2020 17:01
Nice day in the gulch, that almost killed me last year


Well written
06/18/2020 22:33
Despite not having pictures your writing made this a good report!

Great report
06/22/2020 19:20
Thank you for putting this report together, very clear, concise and informative.


06/28/2020 08:46
Thanks for writing this. It is nice to have a recent report.


Water sources
06/28/2020 08:53
Do you recall if there were any stream crossings along the way where we can top off? If you remember where they were that would be awesome. Thanks.

Re: Water Sources
06/28/2020 09:00
Hello- Well the actual trail starts on a bridge over Clear Creek. You will be kind of near a stream intermittently for the first few miles. After that the only sizable stream that you cross is right after the fork to Missouri from the Belford/Oxford junction (about halfway). After that there are not any streams that I remember. Hopefully that helps!

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