Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Missouri Mountain is located in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The standard route is across the Northwest Ridge from the Missouri Gulch Trail
. This is a long 11 mile out and back route with incredible scenery.
Need to Know
All runners attempting to summit MIssouri should be mindful of how quickly the weather changes in the Colorado Rockies. The mountains regularly get afternoon storms with threats of lightning on exposed areas. A typical rule of thumb for running any Colorado 14er is to be off the summit by noon. In fact many runners would suggest being off all high ridges and nearing tree line by noon. To be heading down the mountain at earlier hours means many runners will need to consider starting their day before the sunrise to allow for adequate time to get down the mountain safely.
After crossing a bridge near the trailhead, the trail quickly reaches steep switchbacks through dense pine forests. At around 10,750 you reach the first of two creek crossings. Once reaching 11,000, the trail passes an old cabin with level ground, a good place to take a break. Continuing on, you reach treeline at around 11,300 and a trail junction to Mt. Belford on the left. Stay to the right as you head into Missouri Gulch.
Near 13,000 you reach a second trail junction, this one heading left to Elkhead Pass. Stay to the right, heading to Missouri Mountains northwest slopes. You enter a talus field with steep switchbacks as you climb to the ridge around 13,700.
Gaining the ridge you are rewarded with beautiful views. Follow the ridge east toward the summit with easier running for a while. At around 14,000 you'll come to a notch that drops 25-30 that you must down-climb (Class 2+) on sandy rock with moderate exposure. This sounds worse than it is.
Once at the bottom, the way forward pitches severely on a sandy surface. Handholds can be found by climbing high and using the solid rock as an anchor. This section is about 30 long and once past it, there's a little more steep but easy trail is left to reach the summit.
Shared By: Mike Langenkamp