An annual report on hiking Colorado’s 54 biggest mountains continues to tell the same story:
More people want to be at 14,000 feet.
An estimated 334,000 people took on a fourteener during last year’s climbing season, up 7.4 percent from last year’s projections by the leading nonprofit that oversees and protects the peaks.
In a third-of-its-kind analysis, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative once again found the mountains closest to the Front Range were most visited. More than 55 percent of fourteener use occurs on the 11 summits nearest the state’s most populated hubs, the nonprofit found, based on its in-ground trail counters and U.S. Forest Service data.
But now there’s a new leader atop the popularity charts.
While Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado, was regarded as the most-climbed fourteener, the nonprofit believes that more are flocking to Mount Bierstadt.
With new numbers from the Forest Service, the nonprofit projects the 14,065-footer off Interstate 70 attracts between 35,000 and 40,000 hikers during the busiest months. On the most-trafficked July day last year, the Forest Service reported a staggering 1,382 people attempted the summit.
The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative found that Grays and Torreys peaks have also surpassed Elbert in projected use, with the 25,000 to 30,000 hiker estimates at each slightly more than the 14,439-foot behemoth. As it continues to refine its study, the organization moved a trail counter to what it said was “a more optimal location” on Elbert and discovered estimates were a bit too high.
Quandary Peak and Mount Sherman round out the top five most popular fourteeners on the report. Here’s a look at the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s other hiker estimates from 2017’s peak season:
1,000-3,000: Mount Wilson and El Diente Peak, the five peaks in the Elk range and the 10 in the Sangre de Cristo range
3,000-5,000: Mounts Antero, Columbia, Holy Cross, Eolus, Sneffels, Missouri Mountain and Uncompahgre, Windom, Sunlight, Redcloud, Wetterhorn and San Luis peaks
5,000-7,000: Mounts Harvard, Shavano, Belford, Oxford, Princeton, Yale and La Plata, Tabegauche, Huron and Handies peaks
7,000-10,000: Mount Massive
15,000-20,000: Pikes and Longs peaks, Mounts Evans, Lincoln, Bross and Democrat
20,000-25,000: Mounts Elbert and Sherman, Quandary Peak
25,000-30,000: Grays and Torreys peaks
35,000-40,000 hikers: Mount Bierstadt