Photo
Mt. Belford
standard Northwest Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Low
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Missouri Gulch
Start:9,650 feet
Summit:14,197 feet
Total Gain:4,500 feet
RT Length:8.00 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:221 reports
Cell Signal:15 reports
Sheriff:Chaffee: 719-539-2596
Forest:San Isabel
Wilderness:Collegiate Peaks
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

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.

Route

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 climb 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. Hike south along the gulch for 1/3 mile until you reach the remnants of an old shack - 2. Continue a short distance to exit the forest, near 11,300'. Follow the excellent trail south into the gulch as you gradually approach Belford - 3.

At 11,600', reach a trail junction . The Elkhead Pass (Missouri Gulch) Trail continues to the right and the Mt. Belford Trail goes left - 4. Turn left and continue southeast toward the base of Belford's northwest ridge - 5, 6 and 7. Cross a small stream to reach the base of the ridge - 8 and 9. Here it comes! There's 2,300' of elevation gain on this ridge but you'll find the trail is easy to follow and has a lot of switchbacks. Stay on the trail and start climbing. Work your way through an initial rocky section and begin grinding up switchbacks. 10 looks back down on the route. Zig zag all the way to 13,800' where the trail turns right (southwest) toward a point - 11. Continue up to a flat spot near 13,900'. Turn left and continue east - 12. Reach easier terrain near 14,100' and walk over to the summit block - 13 and 14. Climb up the rugged, yellow rock that forms the summit - 15 and 16.

Skiing?

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

Notes

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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