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Missouri Mountain

 Northwest Ridge
Difficulty Class 2 
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start9,650 feet
Summit14,071 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length10.50 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 steep 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. Hike south along the gulch for 1/3 mile until you reach the remnants of an old shack . Leave the forest near 11,300' and the terrain soon levels out and with a view of Mt. Belford ahead - 1. Missouri Mountain is partially visible from here. Continue into Missouri Gulch on the excellent trail.

Near 11,600', arrive at a trail junction where the Missouri Gulch/Elkhead Pass Trail continues to the right and the Mt. Belford Trail turns up to the left. Stay right. Missouri is in view directly south - 2. Follow the trail through willows and over a stream before turning left onto a small hill in the basin. Continue south ( 3) to reach a another junction , near 12,600' - 4. 5 shows the upper route. Turn right at the junction and zig zag west up an easy slope - 6. Near 12,900', the slope eases as the trail heads toward Point 13,784' - 7. Hike northwest to a rugged, talus slope and follow the trail left across the south side of Point 13,784' - 8. Your goal here is to hike to the saddle between Point 13,784' and Point 13,930' (the northwest end of Missouri's summit ridge). Traverse across the slope and turn right before gaining the saddle - 9.

From the 13,700-foot saddle, turn left and follow the trail to the west side of the ridge - 10. Continue to the west side of Point 13,930' ( 11) and up to the ridge crest where you can finally see the summit - 12. Follow the trail along the ridge crest. More than half way across the ridge, the trail dodges some difficulties by dropping about 20' (brief, Difficult Class 2) on the right side of the ridge - 13 and 14. After the drop, follow the trail to the summit - 15 and 16.


The Missouri Gulch parking lot can be packed on a summer weekend. 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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