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Four great 14ers for your first overnight climb

Four Great 14ers for your first Overnight Climb!

Looking for something more exciting than a day-hike? You should try an overnight trip up one of Colorado’s 14ers! Making your climb a mini-expedition is a whole new experience, adding elements of backpacking and camping to your hike! You can also break up the distance allowing you to conquer more distant mountain destinations. Here are four 14ers that would be a great first overnight climb!

Mt. Massive

Standing tall above the Arkansas River Valley, Mt. Massive has more area above 14,000 feet than any other peak in the lower 48 states. The east slopes route is 14.5 miles, and there are great camping spots near streams about 3 miles in. Amazingly, I was able to get 4G in most of these sites, since they have an unobstructed view to Leadville 10 miles away! After spending the night in the forest, you can wake up, make yourself some coffee, and get a leisurely start! Once you get above treeline, it’s a gentle climb to the ridge, followed by a short scramble to the summit! 

  • Mileage: 14.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Class: 2 (Mostly hiking with some easy scrambling)
  • Trailhead: Mt. Massive Trailhead, open to 2WD vehicles

Click here to see the route. 


Mount of the Holy Cross

The area along East Cross Creek is among the prettiest for camping in the state. Beyond the reach of vehicles, you can only get there through miles of hiking. You do have to gain about 800 feet of elevation on your out over Half Moon, but you’ll get a night to sleep beforehand and the valley is worth it! Make sure you use one of the existing campsites – if they’re all taken, you’ll have to ask a group to share (though that’s rare!). The climb to the summit is around 3,300 feet, and many miles, with a final steep rise. However you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the Gore, Front, and Sawatch Ranges.

  • Mileage: 12 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 5,600 feet
  • Class: 2 (Mostly hiking with some easy scrambling)
  • Trailhead: Half Moon Trailhead, open to 2WD vehicles

Click here to see the route. 



Humboldt Peak

South in the Sangre de Christo Range, Humboldt Peak rises above the South Colony Lakes, a beautiful set of alpine lakes surrounded with places to camp. Make yourself dinner and enjoy it with friends along the lakeshore – the views of the stars down here in the Sagres are literally famous. And of course, the views of the Crestone Needle are stunning from the summit, a good reason to wake up the next day and climb.. You can cut 6 miles off the trip if you have a four wheel drive car. Otherwise it’s a long 16 mile haul.

  • Mileage: 11 miles (With a 4WD vehicle) 
  • Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet (With a 4WD vehicle)
  • Class 2 (Mostly hiking with some easy scrambling)
  • Trailhead: South Colony Lakes, 4WD Trailhead, 6 miles added for 2WD vehicles.

Click here to see the route.


Blanca Peak

The southernmost 14er on our list is also the most challenging. Blanca Peak is a long trek, with a steep final ascent up its ridge that involves one or two moments of exposure. There are the remains of old cabins from the mining era several miles into the trip that you can set up your camp inside – they’re great wind breaks! The trailhead for this route is more of a road – most passenger cars need to park at the bottom, but you can shave off a few miles with a 4WD car with clearance. 

  • Mileage: 17 miles from bottom of road 
  • Elevation Gain: 6,500 feet
  • Difficult Class 2 (Mostly hiking with some significant scrambling and brief exposure)
  • Trailhead: Lake Como Road

Click here to see the route.

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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