14ers near Breckenridge | 8 Great Peaks to Hike and Climb
Whether you’re skiing in Breckenridge or visiting during the summer, 14ers offer an exciting way to spend a day exploring the Colorado rocky mountains around you. You’re in luck as there are many 14ers near Breckenridge, and they can be hiked or climbed in both summer or winter with the right preparation and gear. Keep in mind that the further you get from Breckenridge and the front range, the quieter the mountains will get (in case you’re seeking solitude).
Hiking or Climbing 14ers Near Breckenridge
If you’re new to hiking Colorado 14ers, there are a few things you should know before you go. First, research the route well beforehand and bring a good map with you to help you navigate. Second, pack the ten essentials, gear to help keep you safe when recreating in the mountains. Third, check the weather forecast before you climb, and leave your plans with someone back home. These tips will help ensure you have a safe and successful climb. Now here are my 9 favorite 14ers near Breckenridge.
Quandary Peak - 18 Minutes Away
While Quandary Peak is by far the closest fourteener to Breckenridge, it’s also one of the busiest 14ers near Breckenridge. It’s much quieter in the winter months, when it can be snowshoed once a trench is established following storms. The trailhead is readily accessible just south of Breckenridge year-round, and it’s a class 1 hike all the way to the summit. If you’re looking for an easy peak good for beginners, Quandary Peak is the right choice. However, it is also one of the busiest mountains in the state, and the busiest of the 14ers near Brecknridge.
Note that as of July 30, 2021, a parking reservation system has been put into effect. You will now need to reserve a parking spot in advance or take a free shuttle to the trailhead from Breckenridge. You can learn more about the changes and make a reservation here. Note that dogs are not allowed on the shuttle, so those wishing to bring a dog will need a parking permit. Parking along the road is not allowed and will result. in a ticket and/or tow.
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The Decalibron - 43 Minutes Away
The Decalibron is a route that includes four 14ers: Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Bross. You can reach them via the Kite Lake trailhead just north of Fairplay. The road up to the trailhead is route, but most vehicles can make it. This route gets very busy as it’s the only 14er route with four peaks. I recommend climbing it during a week day to avoid the worst of the crowds. It’s the best multi-peak route for 14ers near Breckenridge.
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Grays & Torreys Peak - 1 Hour Away
Grays Peak and Torreys Peak are two twin fourteener mountains just east of the Continental Divide. It’s right around an hour northeast of Breckenridge, just off of I-70 near Loveland Pass. You can climb Grays Peak first, a class 1 hike, and easily add Torreys Peak, a class 2 scramble, if the weather allows. This is a very busy area due to its proximity to Denver, so you may want to avoid it if you’re looking for a trail you can enjoy on your own.
Parking along the road to the upper trailhead is not allowed, and the area is enforced. If the upper trailhead is full when you arrive you will need to return to the lower trailhead near the highway to park, adding 3 miles each way. Start early if you want a spot – 4-5 am at the latest!
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Mt Elbert - 1 Hour, 23 Minutes Away
Mount Elbert is the tallest mountain peak in Colorado, and the tallest of the 14ers on this list. It’s nearly an hour and a half from Breckenridge, but the drive takes you through some of the prettiest parts of central Colorado. The climb itself is a class 1 hike all the way from trailhead to summit. While its status attracts attention, the route is a bit less busy compared to the peaks on this list closer to Breckenridge. There are also good dispersed camping locations very near the peak if you want to spend the night there before or after.
The area around Mount Elbert is also home to great dispersed camping areas, and first-come, first-serve campgrounds. If you want to spend the night near one of the 14ers near Breckenridge, I would recommend visiting Mount Elbert. I include camping area suggestions in my route guide below.
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Mt Sherman - 1 Hour, 28 Minutes Away
Mount Sherman is one of the quicker and easier 14ers near Breckenridge. Thanks to its trailhead high above the treeline it is one of the easiest peaks you can hike above 14,000 feet. It’s an ideal fourteener for those new to visiting these high summits. During the winter months, the south slopes route is a classic beginner route for those with the proper gear: an ice axe and crampons. There are cool mining ruins along the route, which makes this a particularly good option for history buffs.
There are plenty of dispersed camping opportunities around the road to the peak, but it can get busy so get there early to snag a good spot.
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Mount of the Holy Cross- 1 Hour, 35 Minutes Away
Rounding out the list is Mount of the Holy Cross, the northernmost 14er in the Sawatch Range. Named for the dramatic gully that collects snow on its eastern face, it has attracted pilgrims to its slopes for more than 100 years. You can climb it via the standard route over Half Moon Pass, or take the longer and more difficult nonstandard route along Halo Ridge to see the Cross for yourself. Either way, this is the longest and most difficult of the 14ers near Breckenridge I’ve shared here.
There are established backpacking camping areas along Holy Cross Creek about halfway along the way to the summit. You can do the standard route as an overnight trip with a stop at the area. Just be sure you use one of the established campsites – you cannot make your own due to the high use in the area. Get an early start to save yourself a spot.
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Packing for the 14ers Near Breckenridge
If you hope to climb one of the peaks above you will need the right gear to get you to the top. Here are the equipment essentials for making it up these mountains safely and successfully.
- Bring a good pair of hiking boots or shoes with support hiking socks.
- Pack a small first aid kit able to treat small cuts, sprains, blisters, and illnesses.
- You will need 2 liters of water and 1,000 calories of healthy trail food.
- Bring rain gear and extra warm layers – the summit is cold!
- Pack navigation gear, including a topographic map of the route, GPS, and compass.
- A 22-liter backpack is usually enough space to store all your gear.
I also recommend bringing a personal locator beacon to call for help if anything happens to you during your trip. It is an indispensable tool for the 14ers near Breckenridge. A pair of trekking poles complete my gear kit when I am hiking these peaks. They provide stability and provide an extra boost to my legs.
Tips to Make it to the Summit Safely & Successfully
If it is your first time hiking a fourteener, there are a few things you should know. They will improve your chances of summiting successfully and help keep you safe along the way.
First, start early and end early. Summer thunderstorms are regular occurrences during the afternoon, and lightning is a serious threat to those above the tree line. Start your hike by 6 am to ensure you are back to the tree line by noon or 1 pm.
Second, leave your itinerary with someone dependable back home along with a time they should hear back from you by. The more details you leave them, the better, including what gear you have, your vehicle info, where you will be hiking, and what you are wearing.
Third, be sure you consider any red tape associated with your climb. Permits, parking fees, and reservation systems are being imposed on numerous 14ers near Breckenridge. Look up the peak you are interested in advance to be aware of any special regulations in the area. This includes parking rules – they will tow your car if you park illegally. Be warned!
Finally, if and when things go seriously wrong, do not be afraid to call for help. Search and rescue services in Colorado are free, so don’t let the fear of a large rescue bill keep you from calling. Better yet, buy a Colorado COSAR card to support crews should you ever need a rescue.
Camping Around the 14ers Near Breckenridge
There are multiple areas for dispersed camping near these fourteeners. These are areas on national forest land where you can find an open campsite, set up a tent, and camp free of charge. However, you have to provide your own water and there are no bathrooms but nature. This makes it very important to practice leave no trace camping while dispersed camping.
There are dispersed camping areas near the Blue Lakes by Quandary Peak, along the road to Kite Lake, and along many roads to peaks in the Sawatch Range. Remember that campsites are found, not made. Stick to using sites already established, and don’t create new campfire pits where they do not already exist.
If you are looking for campgrounds for car camping by the 14ers near Breckenridge, you are in luck. There are numerous national forest campgrounds in the areas around these peaks. Some are first-come, first-serve. Others require advance reservations. Do research into the area you plan to visit, or check out my route guide for each peak for specific recommendations near every trailhead.
Leave No Trace on the Peaks
With more people climbing the 14ers near Breckenridge than ever before, it is critical that we all practice leave no trace during our time in the mountains. These seven core guidelines can help us reduce our impact, conserving the area, and protecting public access for the future.
- Plan ahead and prepare. Reduce your impact by knowing before going.
- Plan & travel on durable surfaces. Stick to trails and established campsites.
- Properly dispose of waste. Pack it in, pack it out, and clean up after dogs.
- Leave what you find. Take only photos and memories.
- Minimize campfire impact. Keep fires small in established rings, or skip them entirely.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance, and don’t feed animals. Store food properly.
- Be courteous to others in the outdoors. Leash your dog, use earbuds, and smile!
There is an abundance of specific leave-no-trace practices to help carry out the seven principles. Visit the Leave No Trace Center website here to learn more or sign up for a training program in your area. These practices are especially important for the 14ers near Breckenridge, which see tens of thousands of visitors each year.
When to Climb the 14ers Near Breckenridge
The typical summer 14er season runs from late June through early September. This is the best time to hike and climb the 14ers near Breckenridge, but you need to start early to avoid afternoon summer storms. You can still climb during the shoulder season in September and October, May and June, but you will need to be prepared for snow, ice, and cold conditions.
Climbing 14ers near Breckenridge during the winter months, November through March is a serious physical undertaking with special gear and skill requirements. Unless you are prepared to take a training course or work with a mentor, stick to visiting the 14errs near Breckenridge during the summer months.
It is generally a good idea to start earlier than you believe is necessary. The afternoon lightning hazard is very real during the summer. Winter and shoulder season ascents usually take longer than expected, so start at or just before dawn if you have any doubt about finishing. Conditions can get much more serious after nightfall, even during summer months.
Planning for the Weather on 14ers Near Breckenridge
Snow is possible on the 14ers near Breckenridge all twelve months of the year. While a hike to the summit isn’t particularly dangerous on a bluebird, sunny day, things can quickly become dangerous thanks to quickly shifting weather conditions. Thunderstorms, dangerous winds, sleet, and blizzards can form seemingly from nowhere. It is important to plan for the weather, starting with proper research.
Different weather forecast sources use different models to predict the weather in the future. Because of the variability in mountain weather on the 14ers near Breckenridge, these models can vary significantly. I recommend checking out several different sources – when they agree closely, you can be more certain they are going to be accurate. When they disagree, keep it in mind and be ready to adapt if the worse occurs.
There are multiple good options for research. The best is the NOAA weather forecast site here. It provides daily and hourly forecast info for specific GPS coordinates. You can also use mountain forecast, but it has been less accurate in my experience. Together, they provide a good overview of the weather conditions on the 14ers near Breckenridge.
14ers Near Breckenridge: Now You Know!
While Breckenridge is famous for its skiing and snowboarding, it is an amazing base camp for exploring Colorado’s fourteeners as well. These 9 14ers near Breckenridge have something for all experience levels, seasons and sensibilities. Looking for even more resources? Checkout 14ers.com for more route guides and photos to research your trip. Next time you’re in town, set aside some time to summit a peak or two and enjoy the views from the top!