Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  08/18/2010
Modified:  08/19/2010
Date Climbed:   08/13/2010
Author:  birdsall
 Belford/Oxford or how I learned to love Misery Gulch.  

There's not much to say about a Belford/Oxford hike. However, I had tried to summit both back in June of 2009 with a friend and made it to the saddle to go up Oxford and my stomach dropped and I had a miserable retreat in a blizzard.

However, this day was actually to be for Missouri. I had loaded the trail on the GPS, studied the route, etc. I started at 5 A.M. and hiked up the familiar switchbacks through the trees. Missouri Gulch gets a lot of unnecessary flack. It's a great trail that takes you up to a beautiful area...sure, it's a slog but it's really a pleasant hike.

Chase looking at an unknown destination.

I came to the familiar junction and went about 10 yards down the trail towards Elkhead Pass...and turned around. I was going to go after it again.

First view of Belford

Not too many photos from the hike up Belford, it was windy. I had several times when my dog was clearly uncomfortable with all the wind and I almost turned around and it would break. Exactly as I remembered it last time. However, when the trail starts to loop around to the south side I knew I was close and that kept me going.

Alpenglow on Missouri

I summited Belford around 8:30 I believe.

Summit of Belford looking over to Missouri

And then comes decision...actually, the decision was made to go to Oxford even before I was even at the top. Met two gentleman from Texas who I spent the rest of the day with. Well done, guys.

The way to Oxford

Going down to the saddle sucked as I remembered, but it was such a treat to get to the saddle. Going up Oxford was downright pleasant on a great trail. About an hour down and up.

Summit of Oxford

Looking up at the worst part of the hike.

Very happy to be done but not happy about the hike back up to Belford. As I remembered, it was not fun at all. Same; about an hour down and back up.

We decided to take the leisurely route down to Elkhead Pass which was the best decision I've ever made. I highly recommend this beautiful route.

Down towards Elkhead Pass

Missouri Basin was stunning.

We passed by the Missouri Junction and decided to leave it for another day. While these peaks get a bad rap due to the hike out of the trailhead once you get out it really is a beautiful place to spend a morning.

Tired puppy.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Cool dog!
08/19/2010 04:13
How old is he(?)? Done any of your other climbs? Good for you for being willing to turn back for the dog's comfort--but my experience is that most mountain-worthy dogs are hardier than their human companions when it comes to the weather!


08/19/2010 04:25
Nice report. Elkhead is the best return route. It such a great diversion after completing the steep ascent of 2 great summits. I'm so glad I did not have to hike down the standard route of Belford. The switchbacks up to the gulch are tough and keep this area from being another DeCaLiBron.


08/19/2010 15:08
Thanks guys, he's a 7 1/2 month golden retriever mix. He has been up Grays and Huron so far. He was whining just a bit going up the switchbacks to Belford and being that young it can be scary for them to be in that situation. He started having fun once the wind died down though.

You're right about the start keeping folks away, I've never had issue with crowds like the Decalibron at this trailhead.

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