With so many mountains to choose from in Colorado, it is hard to go wrong when looking for a beautiful hike with stunning views. A popular past time in the summer, climbing 14ers is a great way to see the beauty of the state. But with over 50 to choose from, where should you start? Here is a list of some of the most beautiful 14ers in the state.
11 Beautiful 14ers (In No Particular Order)
Huron Peak - 14,003 feet : Class 2
Huron makes almost every list when talking about beautiful 14ers in Colorado, and for good reason. It is a stunning mountain to climb, no matter the season. Climbing this mountain in late July means you’ll be hitting it during peak wildflower season. You’ll see thousands of wildflowers on your climb, along with views of many of the other 14ers in the state.
It’s a shorter hike up the standard route, only 6.5 miles. It’s a great hike, with a short class 2 scramble at the top. If you are new to hiking 14ers, Huron Peak is a great place to start your mountain climbing addiction.
Mt. Sneffels - 14,150 feet: Class 3
Mt. Sneffels is another that will almost always make the list of most beautiful 14ers in Colorado. The mountain towers over the town of Ouray and the Yankee Boy Basin in the San Juan mountains. Here you’ll find stunning views of the entire San Juans and brilliant colors. The lakes are bluer than you might think possible, the grass is greener than almost anywhere else in the state, and the wildflowers come by the thousands.
If you go by the standard route, Sneffels is a slightly technical scramble, and a little harder than some of the others on this list. If you are looking for more scrambling and exposure, the route that runs the ridge is a fun, airy climb, but definitely requires some route finding skills.
Mount of the Holy Cross - 14,005 feet: Class 2
Yet another mountain that will make every beautiful 14ers list, Mount of the Holy Cross is not done quite as much as the others that are closer to Denver, partly due to its mileage and grueling hike to gain the summit. In fact, many people do it as a two day backpacking trip to split the mileage and elevation gain. You get amazing views of the mountain while hiking in.
The standard route is class 2, but with its mileage and elevation gain, Holy Cross is not necessarily recommended as your first 14er. Some also recommend the Halo Ridge Route if you are feeling like 12 miles just isn’t quite enough.
Handies Peak - 14,048 feet: Class 1
Handies is a gorgeous 14er in the San Juans. Really you can’t go wrong with any of the San Juan 14ers. They all offer extremely pretty views of the surrounding mountains. Handies is no exception, especially when starting out in the American Basin.
There are two routes up Handies, both fairly easy, as far as 14ers go. Starting from the American Basin route is definitely recommended though for those doing their first 14ers and for those wanting really pretty views. The other route is pretty with less people, I saw no one the entire time I hiked it, but the other route wins for scenery.
Longs Peak - 14,255 feet: Class 3
Longs is known for being one of the prettiest, and more crowded, 14er in the state. It towers over Rocky Mountain National Park, providing beautiful views of the park and surrounding mountains. As you approach it, the Diamond Face of Longs Peak is quite an impressive view. A large, over 900 foot cliff, the Diamond faces Chasm lake, a great stop if you have time on the way down from Longs. If you aren’t too tired that is.
Despite its popularity, Longs isn’t a great mountain for someone’s first time on a 14er, partially why it also has one of the highest numbers of failure rates. If just starting out on the 14ers, start on one of the others on this list.
Pikes Peak - 14,110 feet: Class 1
Pikes Peak may not be the first choice on a beautiful 14ers list. However, it’s earned its place as the views you get from Colorado Springs of the mountain are quite spectacular, especially from the Garden of the Gods. Pikes is a longer hike on this list, 24 miles via the standard route, but it is well worth it. What other 14er could you get fresh donuts on the top while enjoying the views?
Want to hike Pikes, but not sure you want to do 24 miles of it? Stay overnight at the Barr Camp where you can get a hot meal in the morning before heading out to finish the hike the next day. You can also hike another route on the mountain, a class 2 route that is only 14 miles. Either way, you are in for a longer hike, but well worth it.
Mt. Elbert - 14,433 feet: Class 1
This beautiful 14er is only a few hours from Denver, and towers over the rest of the mountains. You can see pretty wildflowers in the summer, and get some very dramatic views of the snow in couloirs on surrounding peaks before the snow melts out completely. The sheer difference in altitude between the top of this peak and the valley below makes Colorado’s highest peak stand out even more.
Colorado’s highest point is a gentle giant. This hike is class 1 and, at 9.5 miles, is relatively low commitment, making it many people’s first 14er.
Mt. Yale - 14,196 feet: Class 2
Yale is a stunning mountain both is summer and winter alike. You spend a lot of time before treeline before leaving and coming up green slopes. In the summer, these slopes are dotted with hundreds of wildflowers. You also get some pretty impressive views of Yale’s neighbors, such as Princeton and Columbia.
Another class 2 mountain, Yale is a great option for seasoned hikers getting started on summiting the 14ers. There is a fun, although extremely short, easy class 3 variation at the top for those wanting to do some scrambling.
Wilson Peak - 14,017 feet: Class 3
There’s a reason Coors Brewery used Wilson Peak in its logo, the view of Wilson in early summer with some patches of snow still lingering, and during wildflower season, are truly sights to behold. Navajo Basin is quite pretty in the summer, and camping out near the lake is always a treat before waking up early the next morning to start your ascent. You also get some stunning views of the San Juans and Wilson Peak’s slightly harder neighbors, Mt. Wilson and El Diente.
A harder class 3 ascent, Wilson Peak is better left to doing once you have done a few 14ers. It is well worth the wait though.
Kit Carson Peak - 14,165 feet: Class 3
Kit Carson is one of my favorite 14ers to date. The trail in leads to amazing views over Willow Lake, which is stunning any time of day. Once you are on the mountain though, and headed up Kit Carson, you are provided fantastic views of the valley below along with the Great Sand Dunes National Park. You can also see the prominent Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle across the way.
An ‘easier’ class 3, Kit Carson is a nice jumping off point for those looking to start their 14ers that require a class 3 scramble, but not necessarily recommended for someone’s first 14er.
Maroon Peak - 14,156 feet: Class 3
Tourists come from all over to get pictures of the majestic Maroon Bells for a reason. The red rock stands out brilliantly against the foliage. They are exceptionally pretty in the fall once the leaves have started to change and after a light snowfall, leaving a dusting on the peaks. The rock formations shape the mountain into a large pyramidal, or bell shape. The rock itself is a pretty maroon color (they were named the Maroon Bells after all).
Maroon Peak may be class 3, but best leave this one until you have some experience. The rock in the Elk Mountains is notoriously loose. If you have a lot of experience and want a fun, and challenging climb, you can do the Bells Traverse, one of Colorado’s 4 Grand Traverses and rated at class 5. It is also fairly dangerous, (see loose rock) adding to the challenging component of navigating the Bells.
Bonus Beautiful 14ers (Not in Colorado):
14ers aren’t just limited to Colorado, though they certainly have the most. Mt. Rainier in Washington is said to be extremely beautiful (I’ll let you know this summer if the climb lives up to its hype!)
Or if you are in California, look into Mt. Whitney or Mt. Shasta for some pretty climbing over 14,000 feet. Alaska, whole much more remote, is also known for its stunning, and extremely challenging, peaks.
And if you have finished all of these, don’t worry. There are still nearly 50 14ers left, each with their own outstanding views and pretty scenery. If you have hiked a decent amount of the ‘easier’ 14ers and want to get started climbing ones that are class 3 and above, check out my post about the Best Beginner Class 3 14ers.
What are some of the most beautiful 14ers you’ve done? Let me know in the comments!