Climbing Mount Bierstadt, Colorado

Mt Bierstad

Mt Bierstad

A trek up Mount Bierstadt (named after the artist Bierstadt) provides the climber with challenges up to the summit through willows and tundra to grand views.

The three-mile long trail to the summit of Mount Bierstadt begins at Guanella Pass ten miles south of Georgetown, Colorado at the trailhead on the northeast side of the mountain pass in a dense willow grove. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is ample parking for over fifty cars at Guanella Pass at an elevation of 11,669 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the trail register just beyond the parking lot.

The Best Times to Climb Mount Bierstadt are Limited

The best times to climb Mount Bierstadt that rises up to 14, 060 feet in the Front Range of Colorado are from late June through early September. Be aware that it snows at this elevation on any day of the year including July and August. The worst times to climb this peak would be from early to mid-September through late June. There are no man-made hazards on the trail, but the hiker must be careful picking his way through a half mile of dense alpine willows growing out of mucky ground. In order to reach the summit before afternoon thundershowers develop, the hiker should begin climbing at Guanella Pass no later than 8 a.m. Once under way, the hiker will encounter thick branches of willow and mucky wetlands on either side of the trail. But, after a half mile or so, she will emerge into clear landscapes of rocks and tundra laced with alpine flowers.

The Remaining Two Miles of Trail are Very Steep

Once the hiker is out in the clear, he will realize that he is not on a tourist trail. There are very few switchbacks as the trail climbs straight up nearly two thousand feet to the summit. While climbing, the hiker should pause to enjoy the view to the south of Greys and Torreys Peaks and to the north, the Indian Peaks leading toward Rocky Mountain National Park.

The hiker should realize that this peak was named after the German-born artist Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) who visited the American West beginning in 1858. He painted scenes of Wyoming and Colorado that hang in museums throughout the world. His paintings reveal sudden thunder storms thrashing out lightning in valleys between peaks. The hiker should watch real the horizon for any developing storms. A variety of wildlife from flowers to birds to mammals can be enjoyed during the climb including ravens, bighorn sheep, marmots and deep-yellow sunflowers.

Views From the Summit are Unforgettable

Hopefully the climber will arrive at the rocky summit (see accompanying image) at or before noon. She should take a well-deserved rest up here above fourteen thousand feet to enjoy the views of Mount Evans directly east and Long Peak to the far north and the ocean-like prairies of Colorado to the east. The round-trip hike takes up to a full day with a vertical gain to 2,300 feet. Bring sufficient water and energy snacks as there are no water sources along the trail, nor are there any rest room facilities. The hiker can pick up a map in Denver at any sporting goods store or download one from USGS website Mount Evans Quad.

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