They are called the fourteeners—mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet above sea level. There are 88 peaks in the United States that qualify (some don't due to a lack of prominence to other nearby fourteeners). Of those 88 peaks, 53 of them are in Colorado; the rest are in Alaska (22), California (12) and Washington (1).
Scaling all 88 fourteeners is an aspiration of many hardcore climbers. Hiking to the top of one is a fun bucket-list item for any active person.
The website 14ers.com is devoted to Colorado's highest peaks. It has ranked the "easiest" fourteeners to climb, based on hike duration, proximity to Denver, accessible trailheads and defined hiking trails. The site does warn, however, that no fourteener is "easy," just that some are easier than others.
The site suggests these three near Denver:
- Grays Peak (14,278 feet) about 50 miles west of Denver.
- Torreys Peak (14,275 feet) right next to Grays Peak.
- Mt. Bierstadt (14,065 feet) also about 50 miles from Denver.
A tougher fourteener near Denver is Longs Peak, the only fourteener within Rocky Mountain National Park. At 14,255 feet, it's considered a difficult ascent requiring some technical skills. It's about 75 miles from Denver.
Of course, there's a lot of great hiking in the Denver area besides the 53 fourteeners. If you're a hiker heading to Colorado, here's a guide for all your hiking needs.
Places to Hike
Red Rock Amphitheater is one of the most famous concert venues in the United States. But it actually is located within Red Rocks Park, part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. This beautiful park is known for its sandstone rock formations, and has many miles of trails to explore.
Try the Trading Post Trail and the Red Rocks Trail. Finish them both and you've hiked seven beautiful miles.
Other places to hike:
- Roxborough State Park near Littleton has great family-friendly hiking trails, some of which take you to summits exceeding 7,000 feet. We recommend Carpenter Peak.
- Meyer Ranch Park is a less moderate hike full of good scenery and the chance to see wildlife.
Find a hiking event in Denver, CO.
Stores to Check Out
Wilderness Exchange Unlimited is a way to find the outdoors apparel you need without spending a fortune. The business buys and sells used equipment, and also finds closeouts and cosmetic 2nds at below wholesale prices. Their slogan is "Top Gear. Bottom Dollar."
The store is located at 2401 15th Street.
Other stores to consider:
- REI (1416 Platte Street)
- GoLite (1535 Platte Street)
One Last Tip
Besides the aforementioned Longs Peak, visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park can be overwhelmed with the amount of amazing hikes. Check out the beautiful Chasm Lake, Ute Trail and Hallett Peak, among many others. Rocky Mountain National Park is about a 90-minute drive from downtown Denver.
More: 5 Reasons to Take a Hike
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.