Best Colorado 13ers for Beginners

Best Colorado 13ers for Beginners: 9 Peaks You Need to Hike

There are more than six-hundred 13ers in Colorado – those are peaks between 13,000 and 13,999 feet tall. With so many choices, you might be wondering what the best Colorado 13ers for beginners are. Here are my top nine recommendations, spread throughout the state. With so many peaks, there’s a 13er for everyone!


Table of Contents

1. Mount Audubon

  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Mitchell Lakes Trailhead
  • Mileage: 8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,850 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble

Mount Audubon, visible from much of Denver and the Front Range, is an easily climbed 13er in the Indian Peaks. It’s heavily trafficked, compared to most 13ers. If you’re nervous about being completely alone during your hike, this is a good peak to start with. You’re treated to 5-star views of the Indian Peaks, Longs Peak, and the Front Range cities below and to the East.

Read my Mount Audubon Route Guide.

2. Square Top Mountain

  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Guanella Pass
  • Mileage: 6.5 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,400 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 1 Hike

This mountain lies directly between some of the busiest in the state: Grays & Torreys Peak to the West, and Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans to the East. However, you’ll likely find you have the trail nearly to yourself, especially during the shoulder season or weekdays. This route shares a trailhead with the popular Mt. Bierstadt West Slopes trail on Guanella Pass, which is closed during the winter.

Read my Square Top Mountain route guide.

3. Horseshoe Mountain

Horseshoe Mountain
  • Mountain Range: Mosquito Range
  • Trailhead: Fourmile Creek
  • Mileage: 8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 1 Hike

When you first see Horseshoe, you understand the name right away. The east face of the mountain is dominated by a massive cirque cut by glaciers over thousands of years. Despite the intimidating cliffs, you can summit this 13er via an easy Class 1 Hike up the slopes to the north of the cliffs. You’ll be treated to views of numerous mountain ranges and peaks around you in all directions.

Read my complete Horseshoe Mountain route guide.

4. Mount Edwards

  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Argentine Pass
  • Mileage: 8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,950 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble

One of the centennial peaks, Mt. Edwards is one of the 100 tallest peaks in the state. It shares a ridge-line with Grays Peak, and can be approached from numerous directions during the summer. This rugged peak makes for a great day-trip for those in the Denver or Boulder areas little more than an hour away.

Read my Mount Edwards route guide.

5. Mount Lady Washington

  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Longs Peak
  • Mileage: 7.8 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,887 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble

Longs Peak, Mt Meeker, and Mount of the Lady Washington make up the “Three Peaks.” While she’s the shortest of the three, Mt. Lady Washington provides stunning views of the East Face of Longs Peak, known as the Diamond. It’s a great scouting trip for anyone who hopes to summit Longs Peak, with good vantage points of the Boulder Field and Keyhole.

Read my Mount Lady Washington route guide.

6. Fletcher Mountain

  • Mountain Range: Tenmile Range
  • Trailhead: Blue Lakes
  • Mileage: 4.5 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,250feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble

Fletcher Mountain lies very close to Quandary Peak, another very busy 14er. The route heads up from the Blue Lakes reservoirs underneath Quandary, before taking it’s west ridge up to Fletcher. It’s a great introduction to an off-trail route, as the path includes significant amounts of scrambling without a clear trail. Make sure you bring a buddy and a map for this one.

Read my Fletcher Mountain route guide.

7. Mount Flora

13ers Near Denver
  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Berthoud Pass
  • Mileage: 6 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,775 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 1 Hike

Mount Flora is an easily accessible thirteener along the Continental Divide due west of Denver, near Berthoud Pass. The route is a direct ascent up to Colorado School of Mines Peak, followed by a long hike along the Continental Divide Trail along a ridge that leads to the relatively gentle summit. This is an ideal 13er for beginners and others new to the mountains.

Read my Mount Flora route guide.

8. Stewart Peak

Stewart Peak
  • Mountain Range: San Juan Range
  • Trailhead: Cebolla
  • Mileage: 7.6 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,803 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 1 Hike

Stewart Peak is our southern-most 13er on the list, located in the San Juan range near the New Mexico border. The mountain’s rugged, volcanic origins provide a range of rocks and views unique from those in the Front and Sawatch Ranges. You’ll find absolute solitude down here despite the easy class one hiking.

Read my Stewart Peak route guide.

9. Pacific Peak

  • Mountain Range: Tenmile Range
  • Trailhead: McCullough Gulch
  • Mileage: 7.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2+ Difficult Scramble

Pacific Peak has several different approaches depending on what you’re looking for. It’s another great peak in the heart of the mountains in the ten-mile range. Its sister peak, Atlantic Peak, lies just a short distance away, making it easy to snag two 13ers for those willing to take on an extra traverse. Make sure the weather is good before you continue on.

Read my Pacific Peak route guide.

The Best Colorado 13ers for Beginners

Just as with 14ers, climbing 13ers is an inherently risky activity. With 13ers you will face a wider range of conditions and help is less generally available as there are 600 different peaks. Make sure you take time to properly research and prepare for your 13ers climbs to ensure a safe summit.

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Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located 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. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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