For those who might want to introduce their kids to fourteeners, here are five of the easier high peaks. The best resource for maps, directions and hike details is 14ers.com.
1. Mount Sherman
One of the closer fourteeners to Colorado Springs, about two hours’ drive, is also the most kid-friendly. The trail climbs 2,100 feet and is 5.25 miles round-trip. Several family-friendly campgrounds can be found along Park County Road 18 leading to the trailhead outside of Fairplay.
2. Mount Bierstadt
This gentle peak is off Guanella Pass, a scenic drive in its own right, south of Georgetown. In summer, any vehicle can drive to the pass at 11,669 feet, making for a climb of 2,850 feet and 7 miles to the summit. And your kids will have lots of company, as this is one of the more popular fourteeners due to its proximity to Denver. Drive up from the south, from U.S. Highway 285, and you’ll find lots of camping along the road to the pass.
3. Mount Antero
This huge, bulky mountain near Buena Vista is only kid-friendly if you have a high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicle, as you can drive to nearly 12,000 feet. That makes for a 7-mile, round-trip hike with 2,400 feet of climbing, mostly on ATV trails.
Don’t bring the kids on this one in a sedan. The hike from the car parking lot is 15 miles round-trip.
4. Handies Peak
This lovely peak in the San Juan Mountains is near Lake City, a four-hour drive from Colorado Springs, but worth it if you want to introduce your kids to the rugged beauty of the San Juans. A high-clearance vehicle can get to 11,600 feet at the American Basin trailhead, which makes for a hike of 5.5 miles round-trip and 2,500 feet of climbing, passing lakes and other rocks formations sure to delight the kids.
5. Mount Democrat
Many people climb this peak near Alma in tandem with mounts Lincoln and Bross, which make a loop around Kite Lake. But Democrat on its own is a 4-mile, 2,150-foot adventure steep enough to test your kids’ mettle. If they do well and the weather is clear, you can take them on to the other two mountains. The thrill of climbing three fourteeners in a day will stay with them a long time.
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