Hiking Grays and Torreys | Great Twin 14ers for Beginners

Grays & Torreys Peak are just over an hour from Denver, with the trailhead only a few minutes off of I-70. This makes it a very busy 14er route, good for beginners who’d like some company should anything go wrong. However, if you’re looking for solitude, I’d recommend choosing another peak, as these twin mountains are the busiest fourteeners in the state. Hiking Grays and Torreys on a weekday or in the spring or fall will also provide more peace and quiet along this busy route. My Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide has everything you need to prepare. If you can get a four-wheel drive vehicle to drive up to the trailhead, it will make things much easier as well. 

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Grays and Torreys | Fast Facts

Hiking Grays & Torreys - Route Informations

Any trip hiking Grays and Torreys begins at the Grays Peak Trailhead. This requires driving along a very rough road, so make sure you come in a car with 4WD and good clearance. 

Once parked, start hiking Grays and Torreys by heading across the well-built footbridge to start your journey. You’ll head up the right side of the gulch gradually with a series of switchbacks with grand views in front and to your left. In July, watch for wildflowers along this section, especially the state flower, the columbine! There are also several abandoned mines you can view across the valley as well.

RELATED READ: PREPARING FOR A 14ER CLIMB LIKE AN EAGLE SCOUT

After several miles hiking along this trail, you’ll reach a moraine (a large ridge/hill) and cross a small creek as you hike up a large natural ramp. This gentle slope – the moraine – is the deposited remains of rocks carved from the cliffs above by glaciers thousands of years ago. Around this area, another trail breaks off to the right to climb Kelso Ridge. Do NOT attempt this difficult and dangerous route without proper planning and preparation. Continue left on the main Grays Peak route.

From this point onward, the trail will become rockier and steeper as you approach the North Slopes of Grays Peak, for which this route is named. While it remains a hiking trail, you may need to use your hands from time to time for balance.

Heading up Grays Peak, you’ll work your way up a series of rocky, steep switchbacks. While the temptation will be strong, fight the urge to cut these switchbacks, which leads to significant erosion over time. Take note of a point where the return trail from Torreys Peak meets the main route. Climb the last trail segment to reach the peak of Grays Peak finally. Once you are on the summit, enjoy your well-deserved reward of whatever food and drink you brought along!

RELATED READ: BEGINNERS GUIDE TO HIKING 14ERS

This is a great time to pause and check the weather conditions before you continue hiking Grays and Torreys. Storms can form quickly in summer, so be wary of clouds that may form quickly. If all looks well, you can continue hiking Grays and Torreys.

Head down Grays’ south ridge and head towards the saddle, leading back up to Torreys Peak. Look for cairns to mark the easiest route, which never exceeds Class 2 difficulty. Note the point at the saddle where you can descend on your return from Torreys to save time. Then, start to climb up the north ridge of Torreys Peak, avoiding several cornices of snow that linger into summer. The last few hundred feet turns into a scramble. Pick a line to the top, avoiding any snow or ice on the route if climbing early in May. 

Once you reach the summit, enjoy your achievement and the amazing views in all directions. It would be best if you descend with plenty of time to reach the tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. 

I hope my Grays & Torreys Peak Route Guide was helpful. Looking for more info about hiking Grays and Torreys? Visit 14ers.com or summitpost.com for more route guide material. Safe travels on the trail, and best of luck hiking Grays and Torreys.

RELATED READ: WE SCREWED UP, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO – 10 TIPS FROM 14ER VETERANS

Planning on hiking Grays and Torreys? You will need a proper topographical map to navigate the route. I recommend downloading the map below on your phone to use, and also printing out a backup paper copy in case anything should happen to your electronics along the way. It is better to be safe than sorry while hiking Grays and Torreys!

Grays & Torreys Peak Standard Route Guide

The weather changes constantly in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Before hiking Grays and Torreys, it is very important to check the weather forecast multiple times, from multiple sources, in the days leading up to your trip. Here are several good weather forecast sources for those hiking Grays & Torreys.

Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide – Mountain Weather Forecast

Grays and Torreys Peak Route Guide – NOAA Weather Forecast

The right gear will go a long way in keeping you safe while hiking Mount Bierstadt. Here’s a quick overview of what you need for this trip, along with some of my personal recommendations from my experience on the mountain.

Mount Bierstadt’s west slope is a very busy, popular trail during the summer months. As there are many people around if anything goes wrong, you don’t need a lot of emergency gear – just the basic necessities:

  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm
  • Water Bottle (2 liters minimum)
  • Snacks (trail mix, jerky, protein bars)
  • Headlamp
  • Knife/Multi-tool

The most important/expensive gear you need for hiking Mount Bierstadt is a solid backpack for your other gear, and a pair of hiking boots that will get you to the summit. I recommend hiking boots instead of hiking shoes as tripping is very possible on the rocky slopes you’ll navigate while hiking Mount Bierstadt.

I recommend trekking poles too, as they help you use your upper body strength to support your legs and increases your balance. If you bring a pair, make sure they collapse so you can store them on your pack or the short summit scramble.

Click here to learn more about what to bring with you for a safe and successful fourteener.

Camping near Mount Bierstadt:

There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along forest roads near the trailhead ideal for those hiking Grays and Torreys Peak. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Lodging near Mount Bierstadt:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Silver Plume and Georgetown, perfect for those hiking Grays and Torreys Peak.

Grays and Torreys Peak are extremely busy and getting busier each and every year. Please follow Leave No Trace outdoor ethics to reduce your impact and help us preserve these peaks. This includes the following tips and practices:

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck hiking Grays and Torreys Peak!

Grays and Torreys Peak are two of the closest fourteeners to Denver – only Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt are closer. They are named after two early botanists, Asa Gray and John Torrey, both took 11 years to finally see the mountains now named after them. Grays Peak is notable for being both the tallest Front Range peak and the tallest point along the Continental Divide.

The mountains today are two of the busiest fourteeners in the state, consistently ranked among the 5 busiest mountains. This is due primarily to their proximity to Denver and the ease of the climb (Grays Peak is a class 1 hike to the summit). It is one of the most common first fourteeners people choose to ascend.

Climbing these peaks is a much more challenging adventure during winter months when deep snow creates significant avalanche risk along the approach road and route itself. Several route variations are necessary to avoid the avalanche chutes and stay safe, along with specialty gear and equipment. For those with the right preparation and experience, it is an excellent winter climb close to Denver.

The area around Grays and Torreys was heavily mined during late 19th and early 20th century. As you hike up the basin towards the peaks, you will notice multiple abandooned mine shafts and roads across the valley from you, relics from a long-ago time. Stay away from old mining structures, as they still pose a significant risk today.

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Grays & Torreys Peak, and other high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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