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Mount Belford

 Northwest Ridge
Difficulty Class 2 
Risk FactorsExposure: Low
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start9,650 feet
Summit14,202 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length8 miles
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.


From the parking area, start down the Missouri Gulch Trail. Cross the bridge that spans Clear Creek and continue into the forest. Hike over 1/4 mile and ascend a bunch of switchbacks up through the forest. Leave the switchbacks at 10,400' and continue south along Missouri Gulch. At 10,800', turn left and cross to the east side of Missouri Gulch on a make shift log bridge - 1 and 2. Turn right and hike south through an open area ( 3) before re-entering the trees to reach the remnants of an old shack - 4. Continue a short distance to exit the forest, near 11,300'. Follow the excellent trail south into the gulch as you gradually approach Belford - 5.

At 11,600', reach a trail junction . The Elkhead Pass (Missouri Gulch) Trail continues to the right and the Mt. Belford Trail goes left - 6. Turn left and continue southeast toward Belford's northwest ridge - 7. Cross a small stream to reach the base of the ridge - 8. Here it comes! There's 2,300' of elevation gain on this ridge but you'll find the trail is easy to follow, with a lot of switchbacks. Work your way through an initial rocky section ( 9) and grind up the ridge - 10, 11, 12 and 13. Zig zag all the way to 13,800' where the trail heads right toward a point - 14. Continue to a flat spot near 13,900'. Turn left and continue east - 15 and 16. Reach easier terrain near 14,100' and walk over to the summit block - 17, 18 and 19.


The standard route on Belford isn't much of a ski. Check out the Northwest Gully route.


IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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