Longs Peak lights up at sunrise, If you want to make it to the top, you should start before dawn.
Longs Peak lights up at sunrise, If you want to make it to the top, you should start before dawn. (Colorado Daily file photo)

Leave No Trace

1. Plan ahead and prepare

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces

3. Dispose of waste properly

4. Leave what you find

5. Minimize campfire impacts

6. Respect wildlife

7. Be considerate of other visitors

Source: lnt.org/learn/7-principles

Colorado's fourteeners

Front Range

Grays Peak 14,270'

Torreys Peak 14,267'

Mt. Evans 14,264'

Longs Peak 14,255'

Pikes Peak 14,110'

Mt. Bierstadt 14,060'

Tenmile Range

Quandary Peak 14,265'

Mosquito Range

Mt. Lincoln 14,286'

Mt. Cameron 14,238'

Mt. Bross 14,172'

Mt. Democrat 14,148'

Mt. Sherman 14,036'

Sawatch Range

Mt. Elbert 14,433'

Mt. Massive 14,421'

Mt. Harvard 14,420'

La Plata Peak 14,336'

Mt. Antero 14,269'

Mt. Shavano 14,229'

Mt. Princeton 14,197'

Mt. Belford 14,197'

Mt. Yale 14,196'

Tabeguache Peak 14,155'

Mt. Oxford 14,153'

Mt. Columbia 14,073'

Missouri Mountain 14,067'

Mt. of the Holy Cross 14,005'

Huron Peak 14,003'

Elk Mountains

Castle Peak 14,265'

Maroon Peak 14,156'

Capitol Peak 14,130'

Snowmass Mountain 14,092'

Conundrum Peak 14,060'

Pyramid Peak 14,018'


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North Maroon Peak 14,014'

San Juan Mountains

Uncompahgre Peak 14,309'

Mt. Wilson 14,246'

El Diente Peak 14,159'

Mt. Sneffels 14,150'

Mt. Eolus 14,083'

Windom Peak 14,082'

Sunlight Peak 14,059'

Handies Peak 14,048'

North Eolus 14,039'

Redcloud Peak 14,034'

Wilson Peak 14,017'

Wetterhorn Peak 14,015'

San Luis Peak 14,014'

Sunshine Peak 14,001'

Sangre de Cristo Range

Blanca Peak 14,345'

Crestone Peak 14,294'

Crestone Needle 14,197'

Kit Carson Peak 14,165'

Challenger Point 14,081'

Humboldt Peak 14,064'

Culebra Peak 14,047'

Ellingwood Point 14,042'

Mt. Lindsey 14,042'

Little Bear Peak 14,037'

Source: 14ers.com

Plan ahead

So much sun: The sun is brutal up there. Bring sunscreen and apply it multiple times.

Changing weather: Check the forecast. Watch for possible storms and strong winds. Dress in layers. Depending on the time of year, the hike can start out quite warm and be very cold by the time you reach the summit. Be mindful of the fact that storms usually develop in the afternoon, so you should start early in the morning.

Snacks and water: Drink plenty of water in advance, and pack a lot, too. It's easier to get dehydrated up there, so over-prepare. Leave some in the car for after the hike as well. Bring snacks that are light but high in calories and nutrition. Granola bars are good.

Know your limits: Beyond choosing where to hike, remember that getting to the top is not the end. Getting back down is difficult, too. Pace yourself and know if you're going too far. If there's too much snow to safely traverse and you don't have the proper gear, turn back. If you lose the trail, do not try to make your own. Seriously, this cannot be stressed enough. Not only is it an environmental no-no, it's dangerous. Do it in lower, wooded areas, and you could get lost. Do it up high, and you could end up scrambling through a field of loose rock, risking breaking an ankle, or worse, riding a rock slide.

— Staff report

Climbing fourteeners is a popular pastime for many people in Colorado, and with so many paths and mountains to choose from, hiking one may not be as daunting or difficult as it seemed at first.

The state has 54 peaks taller than 14,000 feet sprinkled along the range, giving climbers of all skill levels many options.

It takes preparation to climb these mountains. You should be off of the mountain by the time afternoon storms roll around. This could mean a wake-up call of 2 or 3 a.m. and starting your hike in the dark for some ascents.

Weather also has the tendency to be unpredictable in the state, changing in seconds. Be prepared for various types with a first-aid kit, plenty of food and water, rain gear and warm, dry clothing. Even on a nice, sunny day, it could be cold at the top.

It is best to hike with others, and watch for dehydration, exhaustion, frostbite, hypothermia and altitude sickness. Yes, all of these are possibilities, even in the summer.

Finally, it is of the utmost importance to practice "Leave No Trace" ethics while climbing — don't leave anything behind, and leave what you do find.

If you are new to fourteeners, there are many amazing mountains to choose from.

Long's Peak

Height: 14,255

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Elevation gain: 4,700 feet

Length of route: 14 miles

While Long's Peak is one of the more difficult fourteeners to climb, it is the closest to Boulder. It is only an hour away from the city, located in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the only fourteener in this park, so it is quite popular, but it's not easy.

The hike to Keyhole is straightforward, but beyond that, you will have to do some scrambling and route finding.

Gray's and Torrey's

Height: 14,270 feet and 14,267 feet respectively

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: 3,000 feet

Length of route: 9 miles

Gray's and Torrey's are some of the most accessible fourteeners in the state, partly because of their proximity to Denver and the rest of the Front Range, but also because both the road and trailhead are manageable. It is one of the more populated mountains, so if you are looking for solitude, this might not be the fourteener for you. If you want to hike one of the easier fourteeners that isn't too far from civilization, though, this is perfect.

The peak is just south of I-70 and roughly a two-hour drive from Boulder.

Mt. Democrat, Lincoln, Bross, Cameron

Height: 14,155 feet, 14,293 feet, 14,178 feet and 14,286 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation gain: 3,700 feet

Length of route: 7.25 miles

Mt. Democrat, Lincoln, Bross and Cameron can all be climbed together. The trailhead can be accessed by taking Colo. 9 to Alameda. At Kite Lake trailhead, it is easiest to access Mt. Democrat, and from there, hike to the other trails.

This is an especially cool hike because you can climb four mountains in one day. It will take you about two and a half hours to drive there from Boulder.