Northeast Ridge - Standard
Start the well defined trail from the parking lot. You’ll come to a junction almost immediately – stay left, and off from the Colorado Trail. You’ll quickly cross a stream on a bridge. At mile 1 the trail will split. This time, stay right. (At any intersection, avoid going onto the Colorado Trail, which is marked.)
At mile 1 you’ll begin a steep climb and quickly rise through the trees near mile 1.7 at 11,900ft. The incredible team at Colorado Fourteeners Initiative spends extensive efforts maintaining the trail above treeline. As always, keep it beautiful by not walking on the fragile alpine grass.
Continue the climb up numerous switchbacks. Leadville and Turquoise Lake will be in the view behind you, and you’ll see an alpine lake down to the left as you near mile 3.3. You’ll hit a couple of false summits on the way to the top. You’ll reach the real summit at mile 4.5, characterized by a rocky ridgeline. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Sawatch Range, Twin Lakes, and Maroon Bells Wilderness in the Distance. Descend back the way you came up.
Climbing your first mountain or 14er is an exciting and rewarding experience! You’ll get the achievement of seeing the world from above and the feel-goods of the endorphins from the exercise. However, the mountains aren’t a walk in the park, and getting down is mandatory. Some situations require extra caution and a little know how. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to get to the summit and back safely.
Whether you are training for a race or simply indulging in all the wilderness has to offer, there are a variety of factors, some constant, and some changing, that are likely to have an impact on your journey. Knowing these factors can help ensure your safety and get you back to the trailhead safely.