14ers near Leadville: 9 Great Peaks to Hike
Leadville is one of Colorado’s most centrally located mountain towns. Nestled in the heart of the Sawatch and Ten-mile Range, the town is surrounded by major mountains and other high peaks. With lots of 14ers near Leadville, whether you visit the area for a weekend or a week, there are plenty of opportunities nearby to summit a fourteener. Here are nine of the best 14ers near Leadville, along with some route details and details to help you choose the best peak for you.
Mount Elbert is one of my favorite 14ers near Leadville. It’s the tallest mountain in the state of Colorado, and the rest of the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Standing on the summit, you’ll be higher than any other person in the state of Colorado. Despite its high elevation, Mount Elbert features a relatively easy class 1 hike up to the summit along the standard route. There are great camping opportunities near the trailhead for this peak, both in campgrounds and dispersed. This makes it easy to spend a night here before your ascent to help you acclimate.
Mount Massive is the most prominent of the 14ers near Leadville, clearly visible rising above the town to the southwest. The peak is well-named, as it is home to a 3-mile long summit ridge and more area above 14,000 feet than any other mountain in the lower 48 states. I recommend taking two days to climb this mountain, spending a night along the trail at one of several creek crossings on the standard route. You can also camp by the trailhead for a weekend to climb Mount Elbert and Mount Massive in a single trip. The 14ers near Leadville have a lot of options!
Mount Belford and Mount Oxford
The Missouri Gulch fourteeners, especially Mount Belford and Mount Oxford, are less busy than Mount Elbert and Massive They’re slightly harder to reach and are less notable as lower elevation 14ers. This makes them better options for those looking to avoid the crowds. There’s lots of dispersed camping along the road leading to and past the trailhead for acclimation. After some steep switchbacks leading up into the Gulch, you’ll take a ridge up to Mount Belford before traversing across a saddle to reach Mount Oxford. Make sure you have good weather for his long, high-elevation trip.
I really enjoy Missouri Mountain. The hike up Missouri Gulch is beautiful, and the summit ridge is fun to scramble across. It features one short downclimb section that is hard to avoid, so I would skip Missouri Mountain if you don’t like exposure. If you want to climb it overnight, stop near the historic log cabin at treeline for the night before continuing up the mountain on summit day. This is one of my favorite 14ers near Leadville.
Mount Harvard is one of the Collegiate Peaks, a small group of 14ers near Leadville named after major universities and colleges. It’s the tallest of the group, and is one of the more spectacular looking peaks on this list. It’s a long hike to reach the summit with plenty of camping opportunities along the trail. Be wary of trying to combine this climb with Mount Columbia, as the traverse between the two peaks is difficult and requires some complex route-finding and navigation.
It was once notoriously difficult to climb Mount Columbia due to the poorly designed standard route. Thanks to the hard work of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, their newly constructed trail up the mountain makes this one of the moderate 14ers near Leadville to hike up. At 11.5 miles, it can be done as a long day trip or as an easy backpacking overnight adventure. As I mentioned above, I don’t recommend a traverse to hike it with Mount Harvard – it’s harder than you think, with few opportunities to bail if the weather turns on you. It is one of most enjoyable 14ers near Leadville.
Mount Yale is one of the easier Sawatch Range 14ers near Leadville, with a 9.5-mile climb. With a bit of fun class 2 scrambling along its summit ridge, it is a great training mountain for more dangerous and difficult climbs later on. Mount Yale is also one of the most easily accessible mountains on the list, with its trailhead located along a major county highway, extending its access season significantly. Driving to this fourteener is a breeze!
You either love Quandary Peak, or you hate it. It’s easy to climb, very accessible along the highway, and has a class 1 trail to the summit. However, this makes it one of the busiest fourteeners in the entire state of Colorado. It isn’t uncommon to see six hundred or more people on its slopes during busy summer weekends. If you hope to climb a mountain with some relative peace and solitude, pick one of the other 14ers near Leadville. You probably won’t find that on Quandary Peak, unless you visit in winter. However, this is the easiest of the 14ers near Leadville, without a doubt.
Mount Princeton is another collegiate peak. Its difficulty depends largely on what type of vehicle you drive. With 4WD and high clearance, you can make it up to a series of radio towers just a few thousand feet below the summit. If not, plan to add 2,000 feet and several miles to the ascent. Mount Princeton is a slog across talus-strewn slopes, with lots of slow scrambling required to reach the peak. The views from the summit looking down on the Arkansas River Valley are worth all the effort, as this has some of the best view of the 14ers near Leadville.
The Best 14ers Near Leadville to Hike
There are few better base camps in Colorado for peak-bagging than Leadville, Colorado. The town has avoided much of the commercialization seen elsewhere in the state. The result is low prices, friendly locals, and a more rustic, authentic atmosphere. The town’s rich mining history only adds to the enjoyment. The nine 14ers near Leadville listed here are just a small portion of the mountains and outdoor areas you can explore near this great mountain town. Whether you want to rent a motel room, find an Airbnb, or camp near the town, it is a great option for any 14er hiker or peak bagger. Safe travels on the trail – enjoy all these 14ers near Leadville!