Grays and Torreys Peak are two of the busiest 14ers in Colorado. Just a 75-minute drive from Denver, the trailhead requires 4WD to reach but is worth the time and effort. The gentle trail follows a gentle valley as it gradually ascends to the east face of Grays Peak. After an arduous climb up its switchbacks and a break at the summit, you can traverse across the ridge to its sister peak, Torreys Peak. These mountains are an ideal choice for new hikers unsure of their abilities, with lots of people around if anything goes wrong. However, if you prefer solitude on your hikes, this is not the best route for you. Those interested in a shorter hike should check out my guide on hiking Grays Peak on its own. Let’s dig into what it takes to climb Grays and Torreys Peak safely and successfully.
Hiking Grays and Torreys: Fast Facts
Hiking Grays & Torreys Peak - Combination Route
First time planning a 14er hike or climb? Start by reading the route description and reviewing the route map. You should use the weather forecasts to plan, along with my gear recommendations. Check the Trailhead info to ensure you know how to get there and have an appropriate vehicle. Stay nearby at one of the camping or lodging options below to acclimatize before your climb and reduce your risk of altitude sickness. Lastly, refresh your Leave No Trace and mountain safety knowledge to protect the peaks and yourself.
There is additional information about the peak, local regulations, plus additional resources and a frequently asked question section. Have a question? Leave a comment at the bottom of the route guide and we’ll reply ASAP with an answer. Cheers!
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.
RELATED READ: We Screwed Up So You Don’t Have To: 10 Tips for 14ers
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.
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: The Beginner’s Guide to the Colorado 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 this route description was informative and helps you on your climb. Safe travels on the trails; best of luck hiking Grays and Torreys Peak.
PS: Once you climb these peaks, come back and visit to leave a comment below about your experience to share it with our readers and community – thanks in advance!
Take time to carefully review this map of the Grays Peak trail. I recommend saving a digital copy on your phone and printing out a backup paper copy.
Remember: screens shatter, signal fades, batteries get cold, and power runs out. Never rely 100% on your smartphone to navigate and call for help.
Note: You ascend the left fork (the switchbacks), cross over the ridge to Torreys Peak, and then descend via the shorter connection route without switchbacks (easier to descend).
The weather changes constantly in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Before you hike Grays and Torreys Peak, it is 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 the area around the peaks:
National Weather Service Forecast: Grays Peak
Below is the complete National Weather Service forecast for the Grays and Torreys area. This is considered the best available forecast, all things considered. Scroll down to review it in its entirety.
Grays Peak Climate
This is the climate averages for each month of the year for the summit of Grays Peak (conditions at lower elevation will be warmer):
There are a number of websites, social media groups, and apps that have beta (information) on the current conditions along this route. Remember – these reports are not vetted by us – so take them with a grain of salt.
Drive west from Denver on Interstate 70 and take the Bakerville exit #221. Drive south on Stevens Gulch Road, County Road 321, for about four miles. This road is rough and may be considered a 4-wheel drive road at times. In the winter, the road is impassable.
The trailhead has some dispersed campsites and a pit toilet available. The lot fills very early (4-5am on busy weekends), which adds 3 miles each way. No parking is allowed along the road to the trailhead – and it is enforced.
Note: If you are lucky, someone will offer you a ride up or down with them if you ask nicely and offer them a snack!
Bringing the right gear with you when hiking Grays Peak will help you stay safe and increase your odds of a successful summit. Here’s a packing list I recommend using for this and similar class 1 fourteeners in Colorado. Click a link to see my recommendations for that gear item.
Hiking Gear List:
- Backpack (20-30 liters)
- First Aid Kit
- Headlamp + spare batteries
- Trek Poles
- Water Bottle (2 liters)
- Snacks (1,000 calories)
- Emergency shelter (e-blanket or bivy)
- Extra layers (1 extra jacket or fleece)
- Fire-starting Kit (Matches + firestarter)
- Microspikes (for spring and fall)
- Satellite Messenger/SPOT Device
- Two-way radios (if in a group)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Hiking socks and liners
- Polyester pants
- Wicking shirt base layer
- Puffy jacket mid layer
- Rain jacket top layer
- Warm hat
- Face mask (for wind – not COVID-19)
Spending a night near the Grays peak Trailhead the night before your hike will help you adjust to the elevation and reduce your risk of altitude sickness. Here are some camping and lodging options nearby.
Camping near Grays and Torreys Peak:
There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along forest roads near the trailhead ideal for those hiking Grays Peak. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.
Lodging near Grays and Torreys Peak:
- Georgetown Lodge
- Georgetown Mountain Inn
- Clear Creek Inn
- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Georgetown Lake
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Silver Plume and Georgetown, perfect for those hiking Grays Peak and other 14ers.
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.
14ers are inherently dangerous – even relatively easy routes like the trail up Grays and Torreys Peak. Follow these essential safety practices while planning and going on your trip. Learn more by reading our complete mountain safety guide.
- Research your route thoroughly, taking note of any turns, complex terrain, and major landmarks.
- Review the map and make sure you have a paper and digital copy with you.
- Start early (usually by 6am) to be back below the tree line by 12pm-1pm during the summer monsoon when lightning is a risk.
- Wear a helmet on class 3+ routes like Kelso Ridge on Torreys Peak.
- Tell someone dependable where you are going and when they should hear back from you.
- Pack the ten essential and keep them with you at all times.
- Stay on trail and on route; don’t try to take shortcuts (they do not exist).
- Bring microspikes and/or snowshoes when trails may be snow-covered in the spring and early summer.
- Keep dogs leashed for their safety and the safety of others and their pets.
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 abandoned 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.
There are no permits or reservations required to hike or climb Grays and Torreys Peak.
However, there is limited parking available at the upper trailhead, and no parking is allowed along the 4WD road leading to it. If you do not arrive early enough and the lot is full, you need to return to park at the lower lot near the highway and hike up (adding 3 miles each way).
Grays and Torreys Peak are on located within the Arapahoe National Forest. Please follow their land management guidelines and regulations to protect public access to this area.
- Dogs must be under control at all times.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Here are some additional websites and resources to help you plan your visit to Grays and Torreys Peak:
- 14ers.com Route Guide – Grays and Torreys Peak
- SummitPost: Grays Peak Trail Guide
- The Outbound: Grays and Torreys Peak Combo
- Youtube Video: Hiking Grays & Torreys Peak
Know of other websites or resources we should include? Share it in a comment below or send us a message and we’ll add it in our next route guide update.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have a question we haven’t addressed? Leave it in a comment below and we’ll reply, or send us a message at our public info email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: The hike for both Grays and Torreys Peaks typically takes about 7-9 hours round trip, depending on your pace. This includes both ascent and descent for the standard combo route.
A: Grays and Torreys Peaks are considered intermediate hikes among Colorado’s 14ers. They have clear trails and no technical climbing is required, but the elevation, distance, and potential for rapidly changing weather make it a challenging hike.
A: The closest 14er to Denver is Mount Bierstadt, about an hour and a half drive from the city center. Grays and Torreys are about 15 minutes further away, near Silver Plume.
A: The closest town to Torreys Peak is Georgetown, which is approximately a 30-minute drive away. Silver Plume, while much smaller, is around 20 minutes away.
A: Torreys Peak is a Class 2 hike. This means it has some steeper, off-trail sections where using your hands for balance may be necessary.
A: The starting point for Grays Peak is at the Stevens Gulch Trailhead. From I-70, you take exit 221 and follow Stevens Gulch Road to the trailhead.
A: No, you cannot drive up Grays Peak. The peak is only accessible by hiking trails. The road to the trailhead is rough and requires a high-clearance vehicle, but from the trailhead, it’s all on foot.