From the trailhead at Guanella Pass the first direction you head is down. As disheartening as it is (and with Mount Bierstadt looming high) you descend into the marsh and willows of Scott Gomer Creek. Without the boardwalks preventing you from going even lower and wetter, this would be a much different trail.

Boardwalk Trail Through the Willows

Boardwalk Trail Through the Willows


But it does build up anticipation, and you’re warmed up by the time the ascent begins.

And it’s one of those Class 1 ascents — that thin trail too easy to slow down, but with enough steepness to keep you winded. Pretty soon there’s a good view of the willows, and Grays & Torries pop up.


The trail wends up and eventually to the left, becoming steeper as it gets higher. At the shoulder before the final Class 2 pitch, you have a good view of Frozen Lake.
Frozen Lake with Pikes Peak on the Horizon

Frozen Lake with Pikes Peak on the Horizon

And with that the scramble begins up the rocks to the peak. I find the Class 2 stuff more engaging than Class 1 trails — hand & foot placement keeps my mind working and helps me avoids having that pack mule stare.

Bierstadt has a good view: Mount Evans is so close you could almost hit it with a rock, Abyss Lake nestles between the two 14ers, and The Sawtooth tempts you to keep going forward.

But I was not there to keep going forward. It was a windy day with clouds, so I wasn’t even going to stay on the top. A couple of photos a swig of water, then I was headed back.

The descent was uneventful, but the willows in Scott Gomer Creek gave the view a lush greenery that’s lacking from other 14ers.

Scott Gomer Creek & Wildflowers

Scott Gomer Creek & Wildflowers

The sky provided nice lighting for the look-back near the car. The cliffy granite provides a drama that the heap-of-rocks peaks (like Grays & Torries or Mount Princeton) lack.

Mt Spalding & the Sawtooth

Mt Spalding & the Sawtooth

Overall I enjoyed Mount Bierstadt. That trail climb is a bit sloggy, but once up the views and the rock scramble did not disappoint.

  • When: 6 Aug 2014
  • Distance: 6.9 mi RT
  • Net Elevation: 2,420′
  • Total Elevation: 2,900′
  • Time to Summit: 2:15 hrs
  • Total Time: 5:00 hrs
  • Colo 14er Rank: #38