Hike Missouri Mountain

10.5 miles 4500 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Marisa Jarae

One of Colorado's 14ers, and easy Class 2 with a bit of Class 2+ at the top for added excitement. This is not as busy as other 14ers right next door to two other 14ers for a good weekend triple summit.

Getting there: The trail begins at Missouri Gulch TH. If you are a car camper or are trying to snag a sunrise summit, there are many many drive off sites in trees and near water before and after the trailhead. The road to get to the trailhead is not paved, but is well maintained - a super high clearance vehicle isn't necessary. The TH is about seven miles off of Chaffee County 390 road.

The Hike:Missouri Gulch Trail leads to both Missouri Mountain and Belford. The trail is obvious and well maintained. You will gain a decent amount of elevation as you hike over log bridges and through forrest. The first 3.5 miles have almost 3,740 ft of gain.

Once you start to reach tree line, you'll come upon the remnants of an old cabin. This is a popular place for backpackers to set up camp. Turn right at the cabin to stay on the trail.

At this point, you should be in an alpine valley. Depending on season, this area can be filled with wildflowers. There are several backpacking campsites through the valley as well. You'll still gain a bit through the valley, though the trail seems to flatten significantly.

Next you'll come to a fork in the road. If you go right, you'll head up Belford. To stay on the path to Missouri, you should go left. You'll go through some willows, cross the stream (it was icy when I crossed and I ended up going for a bit of a pre-sunrise swim...) and soon begin gaining elevation again.

The trail flattens once more as you reach the second plateau of the alpine valley, higher than the first. from here, you can see the ridge you'll have to walk along to reach the summit.

Once the valley starts gaining again, you should be close to the second fork in the trail (around 12,600ft). You'll want to stay right to get to Missouri. The other way will take you through Elkhead Pass with a trail up to Belford and Oxford.

From the second fork, the trail starts to gain elevation in the form of a traverse up a steep meadow and then straight line through a talus/boulder field. Again, it is well marked and easy to maneuver through.

You will eventually find yourself at the saddle of a craggy looking ridge. On reaching the saddle, turn left to walk along the ridge line. There are parts of the ridge that are decently exposed, but the views are incredible (especially at sunrise).

Missouri is a mountain that makes you work for the summit. While most 14er class 2 ridge lines are pretty straight forward/upward gain, the trail on Missouri's ridge actually loses elevation in spots, making the final ascent up to the summit steeper and a bit more challenging for tired legs.

Note: Several spots on the ridge line section of trail are steep, packed with dirt and gravel, and have some pretty serious exposure to one side. Use caution on the decent in these areas.

Read More




Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥇Top Contributor

19 days ago


We did this in May to get some snow climbing in. It is super scenic and great to camp by tree line so you can do all three in the weekend. Just be prepared for snow if you're going in the spring. Belford and Oxford can be done earlier in the season without gear but Missouri cannot.

Stay Nearby

Twin Lakes, Colorado

White Star

Overview Picturesque White Star Campground lies at the foot of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak, among fragrant ponderosa pines. The campground provides convenient access to Twin Lakes Reservoir...

Twin Lakes, Colorado

Lakeview Campground

Overview Lakeview Campground, with wonderful views of the Twin Lakes Reservoir, offers a large space with options for tent, RV and group camping. Located about 29 miles north of Buena Vista, Colora...

Buena Vista, Colorado

Evie's Outpost

Evie's Outpost is everything you need for a peaceful, quiet, and enjoyable mountain getaway. This house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with all the right touches to make you feel right at home. Cl...

From $275/night

Buena Vista, Colorado

Collegiate Peaks

Overview Collegiate Peaks Campground is located 11 miles west of Buena Vista, Colorado, along Middle Cottonwood Creek near the top of Cottonwood Pass. The campground offers well-spaced campsites an...

Nearby Adventures

  • Summit Two 14ers: Belford and Oxford

    You'll being your ascent at the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, which is located a few miles up Chaffee County Road 390, at around 9,600 feet. The trail is very clear and very well maintained, but is steeper than most trails (even quite a few of the 14e...

    13 miles

  • Summit Mount Huron

    There are some dispersed campsites along side the 4x4 road that leads to the trailhead. Ideally you can sleep here to get an early start to your hike in the morning, to avoid the afternoon storms that frequent the mountains. The 4x4 is rough in sp...

    6 miles 3500 ft gain

  • Hike Hope Pass

    Hope Pass is accessed from the Willis Gulch trailhead about 25 miles outside of Leadville, Colorado. To get to the trail head, follow Highway 24 East for about 16 miles until you arrive at the junction for Highway 82. Turn right and follow Highway...

    9 miles 4500 ft gain

  • Hike Huron Peak

    If you have a 4WD vehicle, drive 2 miles from Winfield along a dirt road to the trailhead. If you don't have a suitable vehicle, you can park before the road gets rough and hike the rest of the road to the trailhead.Starting at 10560 feet of eleva...

    6.5 miles

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 

    Learn More