14er #2: Mount Bierstadt

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Trailhead sign for Mount Bierstadt. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014.

Last Friday, a few co-workers and I received a random day off. With summer coming quickly to an end, we decided to hike Mount Bierstadt, a Class 2 difficulty, 14,060′ mountain in Colorado. This only being my second 14er, I was just as anxious as the first!

Out of the three of us who hiked, 2 of us were on our second 14er and for one of us, Bierstadt was the first. I would definitely recommend Bierstadt for first-time 14ers for a few reasons: 1) lower class of difficulty, 2) no incredibly steep inclines, 3) the trail is clearly defined and consists of wooden planking (beginning), dirt, and boulders – you get a taste of everything! 4) if you can park in, or close to, the parking lot at the trailhead, it is only about a 7.5 round trip. For directions to Bierstadt, click here.

 

Luckily, the weather last Friday was incredible! We had a few scary clouds once we hit summit, but no rain or hail the entire afternoon. Amazing, right?! It was nice to hike on a Friday and beat the weekend crowds also – if you have the chance to go on a weekday, take it!

 

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A hidden lake during mile 1 of Bierstadt. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

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Sunshine and a two-track trail – how beautiful is that view?! Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

 

We began hiking the trail at about 7 am and made our way across the two-track path; wooden decking also consumed a portion of the trail early on in the first mile, leading us over marshy land and through tall grass.

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Beautiful meadows and wildlife. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

 

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Beautiful meadows and wildlife. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

 

The views of the valleys  and meadows were breath-taking. Beautiful wildflowers are present along the majority of the trail until about the 3rd mile (guess-timate). Marmots and little chipmunks were everywhere! It was really fun to see wildlife in addition to the beautiful plant life on our hike this time.

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Check out how far we’d come! Looking back at the trailhead below somewhere between mile 2 and 3. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

 

Although the trail is pretty tame, the last mile or two are definitely more rough. The higher up, the rockier it gets!

 

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View from somewhere around mile 3. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

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Rough terrain in the last mile. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

Check out the sweet “Stairway to Heaven” pic from summit:

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Cassy summitting Bierstadt. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

 

The views from the top were incredible, but with the clouds rolling in we were only able to stay up there for about 10 minutes.

 

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View from the top of Mount Bierdstadt. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

Just enough time to get a picture with the conveniently placed, home-made signs that are waiting for you at the top!

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Kirsten at the top of Mount Bierstadt. Photo Credit: Cassy H., July 2014

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Lonely backpack at the top. Photo Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2014

Something we need to mention – 14ers are hard. They truly test your physical and mental abilities to the max. When I hear people say “It’s an easy 14er” or, “Hey, that one’s an easy one!”, it annoys us as this is not necessarily true for you and your abilities. Know your limits. Yes, the 14ers are classified, and this is a good guide in order to pick out which mountains to start on and which mountains will be more challenging than others; however there are no “easy 14ers”.

Research your mountain before you go – 14ers.com is an amazing site with a TON of information including classifications, directions, trailheads, and pictures. Figure out which mountain is going to be right for your skill level. There are 54 to choose from! We definitely recommend Bierstadt as a first-time 14er, but remember that it is still a physical feat to accomplish! There’s no doubt in our mind that you can do it. 🙂

Have any questions or want to accompany DenverSpeax on an upcoming 14er? Comment below, or email us at denverspeax@gmail.com.

 

 

Mount Evans Scenic Byway- The Road to the Clouds

Based 35 miles outside of Denver, CO, Mt. Evans rests at an elevation of 14,264′. The Scenic Byway climbs more than 7,000′ in approximately 28 miles, according to CDOT, and provides spectacular views of the land, mountain ranges, wildlife, and plantlife.

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It’s lonesome at the top, right? Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

The road to the summit of Mt. Evans is a scary one – lots of cliff-hanger views a foot outside of the car. Our good friend Michael drove us to the top while we all laughed nervously and inched toward the middle of the car. Well, all of us except our Moguls (the little dog), and our good friend Sarah, who was visiting from Michigan and has driven Highway 1 in California.

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Sarah getting a little puppy love from an excited Moguls on the way to summit. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

Once arriving at the summit, the small hike to the top took about 15 minutes. The four of us were able to stand the 45-degree weather for about 10 minutes before we descended; also, a storm was about to roll in. Be sure when planning a trip to Mt. Evans you check the current weather status and be prepared for the possibility of snow, lightning, high winds, hail, and heavy rain year-round.

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Sarah and Moguls heading to the top of Mt. Evans. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

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Steven and Moguls hiking up. You can see the road below as well as get an idea of some of the life-changing sites on this trail. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

Just to be clear – we did not do the entire 14er hike that is available. We drove to the summit, as previously noted. Of course, we hope to do a 14er in the future, but understand that it takes a lot of energy, experience, and physical awesomeness. Things we will continue to work on.

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“The Abyss”. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

Check out the pictures from our Mt. Evans ride and hike here, and more on DenverSpeax’s Facebook page. While you’re there, like us!

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Michael looking out into the clouds. Pictured is where cars are parked at summit. The hike to the very top takes approximately another 15 minutes. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

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Another view from the short hike to the top of Mt. Evans. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

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Driving up to the top was a bit nerve-racking at times! Still beautiful, nonetheless. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

Van Bibber Park – A Break from Work

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Van Bibber Park, Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

Sometimes you just need a break. Luckily, working in Wheat Ridge provides many opportunities to get outdoors for a short hike, walk, or ride at lunch. I’ve been exploring the trails near the office, and found Van Bibber Park a few blocks away.

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Van Bibber Park, Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

To locate this park, here’s the address to both the main and west trailheads:

Main: 5575 Ward Road, Arvada
West:  Indiana and 56th Avenue, Arvada

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Van Bibber Park, Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

In addition to soft trail stretching 3.8 miles, there is also a concrete path spanning approximately 1.5 miles.

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Van Bibber Park, Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

The trail is fairly easy to moderate, and extremely beautiful with incredible views of the nearby mountains. In the middle of the day, I experienced next to no traffic on the trails, both soft and concrete.

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Van Bibber Park, Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Aug 2013

If you’re looking for a way to cut loose for an hour or less, this place is a great way to get out, take in the fresh air, and press the reset button on your day. Give it a shot! Also, if family and friends are visiting, this is a great beginner trail that is equally rewarding physically and aesthetically.