4 High-Altitude Hikes to Try in Colorado
In Colorado, mountain climbing is king. The state has 53 mountains that are over 14,000 feet tall, which are known in local terms as "fourteeners" or "14ers." These mountains range from easy to climb to almost impossible, and many hikers set a goal to climb as many of them as they can. Here are four high-altitude hikes to try in Colorado so you can experience the 14ers in person, even if you're not a professional climber.
San Luis Peak
San Luis Peak is 14,014 feet tall and is one of the most pleasant peaks to climb. It is located in the center of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and is hidden away amongst the trees. While it has been described by avid hikers and mountain climbers as one of the most difficult routes to get to, the hike itself is actually fairly easy to manage. You don't have to be an expert to climb the San Luis Peak, as much of the climb is flat. It is a nice, relaxing hike, complete with beaver creeks and fields of wildflowers blowing in the wind - not to mention the incredible views from the top.
At 14,345 feet, Blanca Peak is a bit taller than San Luis, and is like hiking on an entirely different planet. To reach the mountain, you first have to cross the sand dunes of Sand Dunes National Park before heading through "desert-like tundra." From there, the climate and landscape change to something greener, and lakes and lush trees and forests seem to appear from nowhere. Finally, a rocky trail leads you to the top of the mountain so that you can look down at all the different ecosystems you passed through to get there.
Windom Peak is 14,082 feet tall and located in a group of three fourteeners: Windom, Sunlight and Eolus. Many people climb Sunlight and Windom on the same day, but others looking for a less-strenuous hike just stick to Windom. It is located far from the nearest town, but it is very popular with visiting hikers thanks to its ease of access. It is known as the "everyman" mountain, meaning that you don't have to be an expert to climb it. Even getting there is fun: Most people access the mountain via a coal-powered train.
Last but not least on our list is Huron Peak. It barely makes it onto the fourteeners chart at 14,003 feet, but this hike is definitely worth the trip. When you look up the word "mountain" in the dictionary, you may very well see a photo of Huron Peak next to it. This mountain is every bit of what people think of when they think about mountains: It has a tall, triangular peak that reaches up into the sky and is only accessible by a rocky, craggy hike. In the lower sections, you get to hike through forests of pine and large, green meadows and in the fall you can see some incredible views as the leaves on the trees shift into their autumn shades.