Sunrise to Summit, Mount Bierstadt

Tara Butler

Mount Bierstadt is one of the 53 Colorado fourteeners. This mountain's elevation is 14,060 feet and is located in the Arapaho National Forest. This was a pretty rad hike through a gentle mountain sunrise.

Monday morning, my roommate, a friend and I woke up around 4 am in order to drive to the trailhead at 5am. The air was cool in Denver as we packed into my vehicle and cruised over I70 West into the mountains. The sun was still hidden by night and the roads were lit by headlights. We didn't share too many words as rock music played lightly in the background.

After arriving to the trailhead, which sits at around 11,700 feet, we set off into the dark morning wilderness. With headlamps on we began down Bierstadt Trail. Several wooden foot bridges cover the first portion of the trail which remains flat for over a half mile. The trail began to rise with slight elevation gain over some long switchbacks nestled among small willows and alpine plants. Rocks speckled the trail along with small deposits of snow and ice. The trail continued northeast and then curved to a point where we began to climb the shoulder of the mountain. Soon we reached a southern climb to the summit. The slope of the mountain is covered in boulders and some scrambling was definitely involved.

We had about 3-4 or so inches of snow on parts of the shoulder and most of the slope to summit. The weather was forecasted to be a high of 30 and low of 27. I must admit, most of the hike was very cold. While approaching the summit, the winds picked up and remained strong throughout the climb. 

We didn't spend much time on the summit, but the view was spectacular. The roar of the wind pounded our ears as parts of our face went numb. Climbing Mount Bierstadt was a brilliant way to kick off the week. We began the hike at 6:30 am and reached the summit by 9 am. The total millage rounded off at 7, while the elevation gain was approximately 2,800. 

Later in the afternoon, I went to work...

What a Monday to be had!

(The sunrise photo is from the hike up Mount Bierstadt, looking out at Square Top Mountain)

Published: October 12, 2016

Tara Butler

Photographer, writer, trail runner. Based in Boulder, Colorado, raised in Florida.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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