This summer we’re attempting to summit as many 14,000+ ft mountains in CO as possible, and we’re reaching the trailheads by bike! Join us on our Summer of Summits.
Thanks to Thermarest’s warranty and Trailhead Outfitters in Buena Vista, I was able to make a quick exchange of my busted sleeping pad for a brand new one. We spent a couple hours in town killing time while my bike got a brake adjustment, then we were on our way to the next trailhead.
We took off for our 24 mile ride mostly north up Highway 24, then about 8 miles on county road 390 to Missouri Gulch Trailhead to access Mt Belford, Mt Oxford, and Missouri Mountain. 4 more miles further on the same road gave us access to Huron Peak via Lulu Gulch. We found a stealth campsite between the two trailheads and setup camp for the next couple nights. We decided to tackle Huron Peak first.
Though most people do Huron Peak as an “out and back” trail, we noticed our All Trails app has a route making a loop through Lulu Gulch. We decided to do a couple extra miles to change up the scenery. We went up Lulu Gulch just as the sun was rising. The first section of trail was basically a 4 wheel drive road with long sweeping switchbacks. Once we were above treeline, the road ended and the ridge walk began. This route was clearly lightly traveled, and the trail was undefined. We essentially just followed the ridgeline from saddle to saddle until it connected to the main trail.
Once we joined the main trail, we noticed more people above and below us. We headed towards the home stretch to the summit in awe of the surrounding views. We reached the summit around 9:30 and didn’t have to rush down. The weather was perfect, and, for once, the wind wasn’t too strong.
About a half hour later, we headed down taking the main trail back to our bikes. The trail was incredibly well made with nice switchbacks followed by a short set of rock steps. Eventually, we wound through the woods and back to our bikes. We rode the three miles back to camp and enjoyed the day resting up for tomorrow’s big ascent.
We got up at 3:00 am to ensure we’d be off the summits before the afternoon on a big day of hiking. We rode the bikes 1 mile to the trailhead and took off into the woods at 3:30 by the light of our headlamps. We decided to head towards Missouri Mountain first. Time, miles, and elevation gain fly by for me in the dark as I’m only concentrating on the five feet in front of me. As we exited treeline, the moon and stars sparkled above which slowly faded as day broke behind Mount Belford. The light illuminated the valley and revealed the mountain we were ascending.
We reached Missouri’s ridge just as the first beams of light were hitting the tops of the peaks on the other side. Huron glowed in the sunshine. The views were incredible but were accompanied by a harsh, bitter wind. We rode the ridge for a while with a short stretch of slick, loose gravel. At about 6:30, we reached our first summit of the day.
We didn’t linger long as the wind wasn’t too inviting. I scurried as quickly as I could back down the ridge to the other side of the mountain to escape the cold. We retraced our steps down the Missouri Mountain spur trail, then continued climbing up Elkhead Pass and the back side of Belford.
The trail took us just shy of Belford summit with a fork towards Mount Oxford. We headed towards Oxford which took us down a steep 500 ft to a saddle then up 500 ft to the summit. The wind was still cutting as we were exposed above treeline, but the air was warming as the morning grew on.
At 9:30, we reached our second summit. The wind was fierce, but we were grateful to enjoy our snacks in a rock nest. Views of Mt Harvard were directly to the south with Princeton and Yale in the distance. Other than the wind, the weather seemed to be holding out with barely any clouds in the sky.
After our break at the summit, we headed back towards Mt Belford for our third and final summit of the day. We retraced the 500 ft down then the super steep and slick 500 ft back up.
Oxford to Belford took just about an hour. It was at this summit that we saw the most people. We found another nice wind block and enjoyed the last summit, pleased with our day’s work. It was finally time to head down the mountain.
The main trail up Belford that we were now descending has a long series of short steep switchbacks. Heading down the switchies was a slow go as welwe for sturdy footholds among the slick gravel.
Slowly but surely we made it back to the valley we had traversed by head lamp and eventually under treeline. From summit to trailhead took about two hours. All in all, the hike took 10 hours and consisted of 16.4 miles of hiking with 7300 ft of combined elevation gain between the three summits. After, we rode the 1 mile back to camp eager for lunch. #23, #24, #25 in the bag!!
If you’re keeping track…
653 Miles by Bike / +54,800 ft elevation gain
183 Miles Hiking / +75,200 ft elevation gain
25 – 14,000+ ft Summits
We are Bekah and Sean, out on an adventure to summit as many CO 14ers as possible this summer and reaching them via bicycle! Follow along here, on Instagram, or Facebook as we complete our Summer of Summits.