Mount Bierstadt

East Ridge
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
Start13,300 feet
Summit14,066 feet
Total Gain3,000 feet
RT Length5.00 miles
Last UpdatedSep 2023
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A reservation is required to park in the lot at the top of Mt. Blue Sky; however, if you park in an established pull-off like the one described in this route, you are not required to make a reservation nor pay a fee to drive the road. If you plan to park at the summit parking lot instead of the pull-off at 13,300', you must make a parking reservation as described in the trailhead information.


A reservation is required to park in the Mt. Blue Sky summit lot, near 14,000', and must be purchased through PRIOR to the day of your hike. It's $17. Look for the --Mount Blue Sky + All Recreation Sites Vehicle Ticket-- on the system. These tickets are based on a 2-Hour entry window that you select; however, the earliest entry window you can select is 8:00-10:00am and you may be looking to start your hike earlier. Unless the weather is bad and they have to close the road, prior to 8am you'll find the gate open and unstaffed. You still need to have a ticket to drive in early. So, reserve a 8:00-10:00am slot, print it out and display it on your dash when you drive in early and park at the summit.

Tickets are good for 3 consecutive days, at the same entry window. That probably doesn't do you much good but keep this in mind if your first day gets weathered-out and you'd like to return on one of the next two days.

More Information at the USFS
Take Exit 240 at Idaho Springs on Interstate 70. Drive south on Colorado 103 for 13.5 miles to Echo Lake. Show your reservation and drive ~14 miles to reach the Mt. Blue Sky summit parking lot. There are restrooms here.


From Echo Lake, drive over 11 miles up the Mt. Blue Sky road (Colorado 5) to a corner at 13,300' with a small parking area. Park here OR drive all the up and park at the summit parking lot. If you plan on parking at the summit, you will need a parking reservation in advance - see the Summit Lake Trailhead page for more info.

1 is an overview of the route. Begin by walking down toward the saddle between Mt. Blue Sky and Epaulet Mountain - 2. If you started your hike at the 13,300-foot corner on the road, don't follow the small path from there to the closest gully. You must descend to the saddle. On the west side of the saddle, near 13,100', locate the top of a gully which drops west toward Mt. Bierstadt - 3. Turn right into the gully and descend west toward the basin below - 4. Carefully make your way through the rock as you drop 800' ( 5 and 6) to reach the base of the gully near 12,300'. Continue west across the basin, over the Abyss trail, and eventually cross the small stream running out of the basin. Reach the base of the east ridge just west of the stream crossing - 7. You're next goal is to climb 800' (Class 2) up the slope to reach the crest of the ridge. Pick your line and climb to the ridge crest - 8 and 9.

Turn right and begin by scrambling over the first, small point on the ridge - 10. The second point comes into view and it's a bit larger - 11. Scramble over this point to see Point 13,641', the crux of the ridge - 12. Point 13,641' holds great rock and plenty of climbing opportunities. In 13, you'll see a section highlighted in red - this is Class 5 and blocks easy passage. The way around this is to follow a grassy ledge on the right side before climbing steep rock to regain the ridge - 14. Hike over to this area and drop onto the ledge - 15. Bypassing the cliffs to your left, follow the ledge for a bit and begin climbing back toward the ridge - 16. This pitch is steep but take your time and you'll be able to keep it to Class 3. Once back on the ridge, scramble to the top of Point 13,641' - 17 and 18.

Bierstadt's summit is in view but don't be fooled, plenty of distance and scrambling remains. Leave the top of Point 13,641' - 19. The downclimb from the point is steep and exposed, especially along the ridge crest and to the right. Search left of the ridge crest for easier terrain so you can bypass the more-difficult ridge sections. Near the base, scramble past some large rocks to reach easier terrain - 20. Pass some remaining points along the ridge ( 21) to reach the final pitch - 22. Climb approximately 200 feet over large blocks to reach the summit of Bierstadt - 23

For the descent, you have several options: 1) Return via the same route, 2) Traverse to Mt. Blue Sky via the Sawtooth Route, or 3) Descend to Abyss Lake and re-ascend the gully to return to the Mt. Blue Sky road. The remainder of this text describes option #3 since it is not described elsewhere... From the summit, drop north along the start of the The Sawtooth route - 24. After a short distance, angle right, away from the Sawtooth ridge and begin working your way through boulders and small ledges, aiming for Abyss Lake - 25. During your descent, you may encounter a few easy, Class 3 sections. Continue ( 26, 27 and 28) to reach Abyss Lake, below 12,700' - 29. Walk along the side of the lake to reach the flats on the south end and continue east to the gully you used to access this area - 30. Re-climb the gully, turn left and walk back to the road.


This route provides some fun climbing on good rock, and a some solitude. 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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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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