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Mount Bierstadt

 West Slopes
Difficulty Class 2 
Ski/Board: Intermediate, D3 / R1 / II  
Risk FactorsExposure: Low
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Low  
 
TrailheadGuanella Pass
Start11,669 feet
Summit14,066 feet
Total Gain2,850 feet
RT Length7.25 miles
AuthorBillMiddlebrook
Last UpdatedSep 2023
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Trailhead

From the north: Take the Georgetown exit off of Interstate 70. Drive through Georgetown and follow the signs for the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. Drive 12 miles to the top of Guanella Pass (11,700') and park in one of the two large, paved parking areas on either side of the road. The Bierstadt trail starts near the parking area on the east side of the road. The upper parking area (on the west side of the pass) has restrooms.From the south: Take US 285 west from Denver or east from Fairplay. Drive to the town of Grant which is about 12 miles west of Bailey. In Grant, turn north on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway and drive approx. 13 miles to Guanella Pass.

Route

This has become one of the busiest summer 14er routes so the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) has recently made some major trail improvements to support the increased traffic. Taken from Guanella Pass, 1 shows the route. Locate the Bierstadt Trail and begin descending east toward Scott Gomer Creek - 2. Weave through willows on wooden bridges and trail sections for nearly a mile ( 3 and 4) to reach the creek , near 11,500' - 5. Cross the creek and continue through willows as you approach Bierstadt's west slopes. Near 11,800', switch back up a steep slope as you exit the willows - 6. Reach flatter terrain, near 12,300' on the north end of a shoulder .

With the remaining route in view, hike southeast up the shoulder - 7. Pass an overlook at 12,600' and continue higher - 8 and 9. Near 13,000' the terrain starts to get a bit steeper - 10. Following the obvious trail ( 11 and 12), zigzag up to a ridge crest, near 13,750' - 13. Walk northeast to reach the base of the final pitch - 14. The summit isn't visible but only 250 feet of elevation gain remains. This is the crux of the route and the reason it's rated Class 2. Without a trail, work your way up through the boulders, staying on or just left of the ridge crest - 15. When the pitch eases, walk a bit further to reach the summit - 16 and 17.

In Winter

In winter, the Guanella Pass road is closed 1.5 miles before the pass, adding 3 miles round-trip to your route. Park at the winter closure and walk the road to reach the summer trailhead.

Skiing?

The west slopes provide a mellow ski but you'll want to plan ahead to make sure there's enough snow for a decent ski.

Notes

IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mount Evans 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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