This mountain – really just a 14,067-foot-high ridge – is part of the expanse of uplifted terrain that also includes Belford and Oxford, less than a mile away; they share the same trailhead. It’s a longer hike, but well worth it as you meander easily (mostly) to the small, blocky summit. This is the heart of the Sawatch Range and the spine of the continent. Try not to enjoy the view too long; it’s a long way back down.
We hiked this in a large group back in 2009, and with an early start and great weather we were on the summit by 10 a.m. – all of us except Ed. He made it to within 100 feet of the top, but there as an area of exposure, where to slip would have meant certain injury or death, and he refused to go on, despite our cajoling. He had no regrets about it. Everybody has their own comfort level. He had simply reached his.
- There’s no camping at the trailhead, but plenty of spots up and down Chaffee County Road 390.
- The Missouri Gulch trail starts with endless miserable switchbacks. Why not backpack up it and climb Missouri one day and Belford and Oxford the next? That way you’ll never have to do the switchbacks again.
- Nothing tastes better than a cheeseburger and craft beer after a tough climb. Stop at Eddyline Brewing Co. in Buena Vista on the way home. You’ve earned it!
Recommended season(s): Summer – early fall.
—R. Scott Rappold