Trail Report - Mount Belford - Colorado

August 26, 2017

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

Showing Small Pictures    

Mount Belford! Colorado - 14,197'
Northwest Ridge Route
8.0 Miles Round Trip
4500 feet of elevation gain

Mount Belford From Missouri Gulch

Mt Belford! One of several 14ers that can be accessed from the Rt 390 Chaffee County Road between Buena Vista and Leadville, the drive into the trailhead at the Missouri Gulch parking area is easy. But that's it for the easyness! This hike gets your heart pumping right from the get go! Once you cross a bridge over a creek, the trail begins steeply up through the woods. A whole bunch of switchbacks gets you up to the Missouri Gulch, but there is no warm up for this hike.

Mount Belford And Mount Oxford Sign

About 4500 Feet To Gain

Bridge Crossing Creek Near Trailhead

Steep Trail In The Woods

Cabin Remains Before Leaving Woods

The Missouri Gulch trailhead is also one way up Missouri Mountain, as well as Mount Oxford, all 14ers. As the views open up as you enter the gulch, Mount Belford is on the left and Missouri Mountain is on the right. The trail up Belford goes straight up a HUGE slope! You can begin to see the switchbacks up the mountain and you know it's going to be a long slog.

Mount Belford And Missouri Mountain

Ridge Of Missouri Mountain

Rocky Section At Beginning Slope Up Belford

As you make your way up the the slope, at first you cross a very rocky section and some steps. Then you begin the switchbacks. The pain of the grueling ascent is immediately countered by the breathtaking views of Missouri Gulch and Missouri Mountain.

Begining Huge Slope Of Belford

Looking Down Into Missouri Gulch

Gorgeous Views Along Mount Belford Trail

Beautiful Views Along Mount Belford Trail

Looking Back Down Missouri Gulch

Nice View Of Missouri Mountain

Missouri Gulch From High Up Mount Belford Trail

Unfortunately what appears to the the top of Belford from what you see from down in the gulch is really just a false summit. The real summit is further up and to the left. And if you're not aware of this, as I wasn't until I was almost to the false summit, it is a bit deflating. No problem though, once you make the false summit, it's not too bad of a trek over to the real summit.

View Of Real Summit From False Summit

Looking Back At False Summit

The views from the summit are amazing as they are from all 14ers. To the East you can see Mount Oxofrd not too far away. Many folks will go for Oxford the same day as Belford since it's so close. In fact, the standard trail for Oxford is up and over Belford. I elected to come back for Oxford another day as it was getting late in the day and I was tired! Just getting to the top of Belford is 4500 feet of gain. To get Oxford means ascending Oxford then re-ascending Belford from the Oxford-Belford saddle. All total that adds 3 more miles and 1300 more feet of gain. Oh well, guess I'll have to get Oxford another way.

The Summit Of Mount Belford

Mount Oxford Seen From Summit Of Belford

Pano From Summit Of Belford

The way down was easy going as it's not a huge distance, but just down! Had a great day and really loved Missouri Gulch and Mount Belford.

Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


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