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Hiking Grays Peak and Torreys Peak

Hiking Grays & Torreys Peak | Route Description, Map & Advice

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 who are unsure of their abilities, with many people around if anything goes wrong. However, if you prefer solitude on your hikes, this is not your best route. If you are interested in a shorter hike, you should check out my guide on hiking Grays Peak. 

Let’s dig into what it takes to climb Grays and Torreys Peak safely and successfully.

New to 14ers? Click here to get started with my beginner guide.

Grays and Torreys Peak

TAKE CARE & STAY SAFE!

You are responsible for your own safety in the backcountry.

These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear. 

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!

Route Description

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!

Route Maps

Route Map

This map shows the route and elevation using topographic contour lines. I recommend saving it on your phone and bringing a backup paper copy in case your technology fails.

Elevation Profile

This elevation profile shows the amount of elevation gain and loss as you ascend to and descend from the summits of Grays and Torreys Peak.

Grays and Torreys Elevation Profile

Route Photos

Here are route photos showing the trail to the summit of Grays and Torreys Peak and returning back to the trailhead.

Current Conditions

Conditions on Grays and Torreys Peak vary dramatically throughout the year. You can use the sources below to check for recent condition updates or post a request for an update from other climbers.

In the climbing world, current condition information is called “Beta.”

Where to Find Condition Reports (Beta)

Each of these websites allows users to post condition or trip reports with photos and descriptions of what they experienced while hiking Grays and Torreys Peak. Check them all before you start making posts asking about conditions or you may get scolded on accident.

Where to Ask About Recent Conditions (Beta)

If you cannot find any recent condition or trip reports for Grays and Torreys using any of the website above, you can try posting on one of the social media groups or forums below to ask if anyone has been near the peak recently and can share some beta.

Weather Forecast

The National Weather Service forecast below for Grays and Torreys Peak provides everything you need to know to plan for your climb. Additional weather forecast resources include Mountain Forecast.

Grays Peak Trailhead

The Grays Peak Trailhead is located off of Interstate 70 at the Bakerfield exit. The road is rough and requires 4WD and high clearance to reach. There is a large parking area just off the interstate for 2WD vehicles to park and walk up the road (or hitchhike a ride with someone else!).

The trailhead has a large parking lot and pit toilet. However, parking routinely fills completely during busy summer weekends. Arrive by 5 a.m. to be sure you will secure a spot in July and August.

If you arrive and the lot is full, do not park along the road. It is patrolled during the summer and you will be ticketed and potentially towed. Return to the 2WD parking lot and walk or hitch a ride up to the top.

Directions to Grays Peak Trailhead from I-70:

Starting from I-70 West:

  • Take exit 221 for Bakersfield.
  • If 2WD: Park in the large parking area just off the interestate.
  • If 4WD: Turn onto Stevens Gulch Road (County Road 331).
  • Follow the road 3.1 miles to the upper trailhead.
  • There are several small pull-offs where you can park along the way.


Do not park along the road or you may be ticketed.

Travel Safety Information

Please note that Stevens Gulch Road is a rugged 4WD road that can be narrow and winding in places. Road conditions can vary greatly depending on the weather, and roads are closed in late fall through late spring due to snow.

Always check current road conditions before your trip, especially if you’re traveling in the spring or fall. Also, be prepared for potential high-altitude weather conditions and carry appropriate supplies and clothing.

14er Gear List

Climbing any of Colorado’s 14ers requires careful preparation and the right gear to ensure safety and enjoyment. Here’s a comprehensive gear list for hiking Grays and Torreys Peak:

Essentials:
Optional Gear:
Winter Gear:
Clothing:
Footwear:
Communication:

Where To Stay Nearby

The area near Grays and Torreys has great options for camping, motels, and Airbnbs. Here are some recommended places to stay near the Grays Peak trailhead.

Where to Camp Nearby

Hotels and Lodging Nearby

Finding an available site at a developed campground near Grays and Torreys Peak is challenging due to their proximity to Denver. This is especially true on busy summer weekends. I think it would be best to reserve a site in advance to avoid stress and uncertainty.

These are some of the campgrounds closest to Grays and Torreys. 


There are additional dispersed campsites along nearby forest roads, with designated signs for parking and setting up a camp, but these are very hard to secure and are first-come, first-serve.

Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Grays Peak is very close to Georgetown and Idaho Springs, which are home to many great lodging options for your stay. From small motels and hostels to grand lodges, there is something for every type of traveler.

Here are several specific options I recommend.

 
If you book a room, you’ll support The Next Summit at no additional cost to you and a win-win for the mountains.

Leave No Trace

When setting out to hike Grays and Torreys Peak, integrating Leave No Trace (LNT) principles is crucial for preserving the delicate alpine environment of this Colorado 14er.

The following section offers guidance on how to minimize your impact while enjoying the great outdoors:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Understand the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Check the weather forecast, and be aware of the terrain challenges you might face on Grays and Torreys Peak.
  • Preparation reduces the likelihood of resource damage and contributes to your safety.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on established trails and avoid cutting switchbacks, which can lead to erosion.
  • In the alpine tundra, plants take years to grow and mere seconds to be destroyed by trampling.
  • If camping is part of your trip, use designated campsites at lower elevations to minimize impact.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack out all your trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • It’s essential to carry a bag for collecting waste.
  • For human waste, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, trails, and camp. Cover and disguise it when finished.
  • Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past; examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning gear and boots before and after your hike.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts in the alpine environment.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a lantern for light.
  • If fires are permitted, use established fire rings, keep fires small, and burn all wood to ash.
  • Put out fires completely and scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Control pets on a leash at all times, or leave them at home.

Be Courteous to Others Outdoors

  • Respect other trail users and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Use headphones, not bluetooth speakers, and keep your noise down.
  • Give uphill hikers the right of way.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • If stopping, move off the trail to allow others to pass.

Incorporating these LNT principles into your Grays and Torreys Peak adventure is a commitment to conserving the mountain for future generations to experience and enjoy. By acting as stewards of the land, we can all contribute to the sustainability of the natural beauty that draws us to these heights.

Learn more by reviewing our complete Leave No Trace Guide for 14ers.

Safety Tips

Grays and Torreys Peak, standing tall at over 14,000 feet, offers a majestic experience but poses unique challenges. They are one of the easier class 2 peaks in the state, but people have still been seriously injured or killed there in recent years. Prioritize your safety with these essential tips:

  • Acclimate to Altitude: Spend a day or two at a lower elevation near Grays Peak to get your body used to the altitude. Altitude sickness can be a serious concern and can strike regardless of fitness level.

  • Check the Weather: Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. Before you set out, check the local weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes. Start early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms common in the Rockies.

  • Stay Hydrated: At high altitudes, your body dehydrates faster. Carry plenty of water — a minimum of 2 to 3 liters per person — and drink regularly throughout your hike.

  • Research Your Route: Take time to review trip reports, route descriptions, maps, and photos to help you navigate in the field and know if you are on the right track.

  • Dress Appropriately: Layer your clothing to adapt to the variable conditions. Include a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating layer, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget a hat and gloves, even in summer.

  • Stay on the Trail: For your safety and the environment’s protection, stick to designated trails. Shortcuts can lead to erosion and habitat destruction and can also put you at risk of getting lost or injured.

  • Know Your Limits: The terrain on Grays and Torreys Peak can be challenging, with loose rocks and steep sections. If you’re not an experienced hiker or if you’re feeling unsure, consider hiring a guide or joining a group.

  • Emergency Plan: Have a plan in case of an emergency. Inform someone of your route and expected return time. Carry a whistle, a mirror, and a small first aid kit. A satellite messenger or personal locator beacon (PLB) is advised for remote areas where cell service is not reliable.

  • Bring a Buddy: Never hike alone. Use the buddy system to ensure safety. If one person gets injured or sick, the other can go for help.

  • Share Your Itinerary: Tell someone dependable back home that you are climbing Grays and Torreys Peak and share as much of your plans and itinerary as possible. Tell them you when you will check-in with them, and who to call if you fail to do so.

Respecting these safety guidelines will help ensure that your climb up Grays and Torreys is memorable for all the right reasons. Stay alert, stay safe, and enjoy the grandeur of the Rockies. 

Learn more by reviewing our complete mountain safety guide.

Permits, Regulations & Guidelines

There are no permits, passes, or reservations required to climb Grays and Torreys Peak at this time.

Please follow Leave No Trace practices and recreate responsibly to preserve free and open access to this Colorado fourteener.

National Forest Regulations

Follow these US Forest Service rules and regulations while hiking Grays and Torreys Peak or camping in the area:

  • Be aware & follow posted regulations on national forest lands.
  • Keep noise levels down to avoid stressing wildlife and livestock, as well as other visitors.
  • Respect private property.
  • Do not carve, chop, cut or damage any live trees.
  • Camping is limited to 14 days within any continuous 30-day period.
  • Developed campgrounds may not be used when posted closed.
  • No camping is allowed within 100 feet of all lakes, streams and developed trails except for designated campsites
  • Be sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. You are responsible for keeping fires under control.
  • Keep dogs and pets under voice control at all times.
  • Using or possessing fireworks on national forest land is prohibited.
  • Travel only on designated off-highway vehicle routes. Travel slowly through water or mud. Do not make new tracks outside of the roadbed. Obey road closures and locked gates.
  • Vehicles must obey posted parking regulations. Unless otherwise posted, one may pull off a road to park.
  • Wilderness areas have specific rules and regulations that must be followed in order to protect these areas from our collective impacts


Check the US Forest Service safety page for other general guidelines.

About Grays and Torreys Peak

Grays Peak and Torreys Peak are two of Colorado’s renowned “14ers,” mountains that rise above 14,000 feet. Grays Peak, standing at 14,278 feet, is the highest point in the Front Range and was named after botanist Asa Gray. Torreys Peak, at 14,267 feet, is named after Gray’s colleague, John Torrey. The peaks are part of the Rocky Mountains and were significant landmarks for Native American tribes and later for miners and settlers in the 19th century.

Flora and Fauna: The region around Grays and Torreys Peak boasts diverse flora and fauna, typical of Colorado’s high alpine environment.

  • Flora: The lower elevations are adorned with wildflowers such as columbine, Indian paintbrush, and lupine. Higher up, you’ll find hardy alpine species like moss campion and alpine forget-me-not. The treeline features Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and bristlecone pine.
  • Fauna: Wildlife includes marmots, pika, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. Bird watchers might spot ptarmigans and golden eagles soaring above.

Fun Facts:

  1. Shared Trails: The standard route to summit both peaks often involves traversing between them via a high saddle, allowing hikers to bag two 14ers in one trip.
  2. Geology: The peaks are composed primarily of granite and gneiss, with visible layers of quartzite. These ancient rocks date back over a billion years, offering a window into the Earth’s distant past.
  3. Accessibility: Despite their elevation, Grays and Torreys are considered some of the more accessible 14ers in Colorado, often recommended for those new to high-altitude hiking.

Hiking Tips:

  • Start Early: To avoid afternoon thunderstorms, start your hike before dawn.
  • Acclimate: Spend a day or two at high elevation before your hike to acclimate to the altitude.
  • Leave No Trace: Preserve the delicate alpine environment by staying on designated trails and packing out all waste.

Photos

These are a collection of photos of Mt Bierstadt and the west slopes route from previous trips to the area. You can also find additional pictures in our route description above.

FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions we get asked about hiking Grays and Torreys Peak. 

If you do not see your question addressed below in our FAQs, leave it in a comment at the bottom of the page, and we will answer it as soon as possible.

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.

A: You should aim to start your hike early in the morning, typically around sunrise or earlier. This gives you plenty of daylight and increases the chances of avoiding afternoon thunderstorms, which are common in the mountains.

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Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr 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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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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