Colorado’s 14ers are awe-inspiring hikes, but many 13ers are just as epic — and less crowded | VailDaily.com

Colorado’s 14ers are awe-inspiring hikes, but many 13ers are just as epic — and less crowded

John Meyer, Denver Post
The Sawatch Mountain Range
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

For those with a heart for Rocky Mountain adventure, there’s pretty much nothing like the experience of climbing Colorado’s fourteeners. There is a drawback, however.

They can get a bit crowded.

After all, there are only 54 or so of them (it depends on how one defines them, because some lists include 14,000-foot peaks that other lists consider part of other fourteeners), and every year, the 12 busiest attract more than 15,000 hikers each, according to estimates by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. Mount Bierstadt, south of Georgetown at Guanella Pass, was trampled by more than 35,000 pairs of feet in 2017.

Consider, then, the not-so-humble thirteeners. There are nearly 600 of them in our state, and a lot of them are every bit as dramatic and fun as the most majestic fourteeners, beckoning us with their own special adventure.

Case in point, a short drive from Denver in the Front Range: Directly across Guanella Pass from the teeming hordes swarming Bierstadt looms the comparatively lonely thirteener Square Top Mountain, with a peak elevation of 13,794 feet. The trailhead for Square Top is less than 900 feet from the one for Bierstadt, where it can be harder to find a parking place than in LoDo on a Friday night. Despite its prosaic name, Square Top is a delightful climb with gorgeous views taking in Grays and Torreys peaks (twin fourteeners four miles to the northwest), not to mention Pikes Peak (65 miles) and Longs Peak (45 miles), yet you’re likely to encounter only a handful of people up there — if any.

Read more via The Denver Post.