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’s my top nine recommendations, spread throughout the state. With so many peaks, there’s a 13er for everyone!

RELATED READ: 4 REASONS YOU SHOULD CLIMB A 13ER

First Choice: Mount Audubon

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 to the East.

  • Mountain Range: Front Range
  • Trailhead: Mitchell Lakes Trailhead
  • Mileage: 8 miles round-trio
  • Elevation Gain: 2,850 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble
  • Route Info: Click Here

Best Colorado 13ers for Beginners

 

Mt Audubon

Square Top Mountain

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.

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

 

Square Top Mountain

Horseshoe Mountain

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.

  • Mountain Range: Mosquito Range
  • Trailhead: Fourmile Creek
  • Mileage: 8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 1 Hike
  • Route Info: Click Here
    Best 13ers for Beginners - Horseshoe Mountain

    Horseshoe Mountain

Mount Edwards

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.

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

 

Mt Edwards

Mount Lady Washington

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.

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

 

Mount Lady Washington

Fletcher Mountain

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.

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

 

Fletcher Mountain

Notch Mountain

Notch has the distinction of having the best views of Mount of the Holy Cross and its famous East Face. Below the summit you’ll find the historic shelter built in the early 20th century for pilgrims traveling there for religious purposes. Even if you aren’t spiritual, you can’t beat this view from the top. Highly recommend it!

  • Mountain Range: Sawatch Range
  • Trailhead: Half Moon
  • Mileage: 6.2 Miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,917 feet
  • Difficulty: Class 2 Scramble
  • Route Info: Click Here

 

The view of Mt of the Holy Cross from Notch Mountain

Stewart Peak

Stewart is our southern-most 13er on the list in the San Juan range. Its 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 1 hiking.

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

 

Stewart Peak

Pacific Peak

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 tenmile 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.

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

 

Pacific Peak

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.

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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