Missouri Mountain (14,067 ft)
14er Peak Rank #36/53
Missouri Mountain – featured on Colorado 14ers Map 7 of 16 – is yet another 14er in the Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Range. Nearby Mount Belford and Mount Oxford, Missouri Mountain is often climbed in conjunction with these peaks, though often by itself from Clohesy Lake. Sporting about 5,000 hiker-use days per year, this peak is not as popular as other Sawatch 14ers, despite the main route being a Class 2 (more difficult hiking).
Named by miners from Missouri in the late 1800s – hence the basic name Missouri Mountain – this peak was for a long time not actually recognized as a separate 14er because it is connected by ridges to nearby Mount Oxford and Mount Belford. Only in 1956 did the US Geological Survey define it as a separate mountain; as the low point between it and Mount Belford is Elkhead Pass at 13,220′ (exceeding the 300′ prominence requirement to be a separate 14er). The name “Missouri” itself comes from the word for canoe, mihsoori, in the Algonquian language.
Missouri Mountain is often climbed from two different approaches: one from the same trailhead taken for Mount Belford and Mount Oxford (Missouri Gulch Trailhead) and the other from Clohesy Lake.
From the Missouri Gulch Trailhead (9,680′ elevation), follow the Missouri Gulch Trail #1469 along the creek and slowly upwards for 1.9 miles to the junction with the turn-off to Mount Belford. Keep right/south at this junction and follow the trail up the gulch further for 1.6 miles to another junction: the left/east trail goes to Elkhead Pass, but take the right/west trail for one mile to the junction of the Missouri Mountain Clohesy Lake Trail #1459 at 13,884′ elevation. Turn left/east and follow the route 0.6 more miles along the ridge to find the summit of Missouri Mountain. This trek from Missouri Gulch trailhead to the summit is 5.1 miles one way with a net elevation gain of 4,385′.
Others choose to take the much shorter hike from Clohesy Lake to reach Missouri Mountain, but this route is only shorter (on foot) if one has a high-clearance 4×4 to navigate the Rockdale Road from Chaffee County Road 390. A mile or so further west from the Missouri Gulch Trailhead down 390, the Rockdale turn-off offers parking for 2WD vehicles, but 4x4s can drive through Clear Creek and take the 3 mile road down almost to Clohesy Lake where there is good camping.
From Clohesy Lake Trailhead (4×4 parking area at 11,050′ elevation), the trail splits off from the Pear Lake Trail quickly (after 0.2 miles) to head east towards the west slopes of Missouri Mountain. After climbing steadily for 1.5 miles, the trail meets the junction from the Missouri Gulch Trail where one follows the ridge line right/southeast towards the summit of Missouri Mountain for 0.6 miles. This route is 2.3 miles from the Clohesy Lake Trailhead (more like 2.1 miles from the lake itself) with an elevation gain of about 3,020′.
From the north or from the west, the hike to Missouri Mountain won’t be as crowded as other 14er peaks, but one should still expect to see a handful of others around on summer weekends. As always, when hiking these high alpine peaks, remember to stay hydrated, know your physical limitations, watch the weather for sudden changes and don’t forget your 14ers maps. Missouri Mountain is one of the six fourteeners featured on Outdoor Trail Maps Colorado 14ers Series Map 7 of 16.
Directions to Trailheads:
To get to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, take Chaffe County Road 390 west off of US Hwy 24 (about 1.75 miles south of the small town of Granite, CO) for 7.75 miles to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead on the left side of the road.
For the Rockdale Road, follow directions above, but continue 2.2 miles further west on County Road 390 and look out for the Rockdale Road turn-off on your left. Park in the 2WD parking area here for low clearance 2×4 or continue 3 miles south down Rockdale Road until the upper 4×4 trailhead just shy of Clohesy Lake.