Additional photos and more below.
Additional photos and more below.

Colorado's Ten Most Popular Fourteeners

Because of the fifth death on the Aspen area's Capitol Peak in just over six weeks, Colorado's fourteeners have been in the news for tragic reasons lately. But a new survey reveals that these majestic attractions are more popular than ever, with the number of hiker-use days during 2016 exceeding the 2015 total by more than 50,000. The data also identifies the ten most popular fourteeners in the state, as well as those where hikers are less likely to encounter a crowd.

The information comes from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, whose executive director, Lloyd Athearn, has given expert advice for two recent Westword posts: a list of Colorado's most dangerous fourteeners, including Capitol Peak, and a collection of tips about how to challenge these gorgeous locales safely.

Despite at least eight fatalities on Colorado fourteeners so far this year, including the five on Capitol Peak (the latest victim has now been identified as 21-year-old Zackaria White, who lived in Pine), Athearn stressed to us that "based on accident/fatality studies I did while at American Alpine Club, the percentage of people who die in climbing-related accidents has dropped rather dramatically as more people are engaging in the sport and are doing so more safely due to better equipment, better knowledge, better communications equipment and more accessible emergency response capabilities. Some inaccurately think that because there appear to be more fatalities in absolute terms, the sport has become more dangerous. In reality, more people are participating in mountaineering and climbing with a reduced risk of getting hurt or killed."

Last year, Athearn shared with us hiker-use estimates for Colorado fourteeners in 2015. The best-guess total for that year was 260,000. For 2016, in contrast, Athearn and company calculate that this number rose to 311,000.

These projections are based on data from two sources: infrared TRAFx trail counters placed in twenty locations alongside trails on 23 fourteeners in the state, and crowdsourced check lists submitted to CFI's website. The compiled information offers data for all of the state's fourteeners. The least visited can generally be found in the Elk Mountains, the San Juan Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo range, where many peaks registered between 1,000 and 3,000 hiker use days in 2016 — including Capitol Peak, which is in the Elk Mountains.

That's a fraction of the use registered at Colorado's ten most popular fourteeners, only one of which has been the site of a fatality this year; in April, Boulder's Matthew Lackey died on Mount Princeton. Count them down below and click to see the complete Colorado Fourteeners Initiative 2016 data set.

Mount Evans.
Mount Evans.

Number 4 (tie): Mount Evans

Front Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 10,000-15,000

Mount Princeton.
Mount Princeton.

Number 4 (tie): Mount Princeton

Sawatch Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 10,000-15,000*

Huron Peak.
Huron Peak.

Number 4 (tie): Huron Peak

Sawatch Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 10,000-15,000*

Quandary Peak.
Quandary Peak.

Number 3 (tie): Quandary Peak

Tenmile Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 15,000-20,000*

Mount Sherman.
Mount Sherman.

Number 3 (tie): Mount Sherman

Mosquito Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 15,000-20,000*

Mount Lincoln.
Mount Lincoln.

Number 3 (tie): Mount Lincoln/Mount Bross/Mount Democrat

Mosquito Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 15,000-20,000*

Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak.

Number 3 (tie): Pikes Peak

Front Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 15,000-20,000

Torreys Peak.
Torreys Peak.

Number 2 (tie): Torreys Peak/Grays Peak

Front Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 20,000-25,000*

Mount Bierstadt.
Mount Bierstadt.

Number 2 (tie): Mount Bierstadt

Front Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 20,000-25,000

Mount Elbert.
Mount Elbert.

Number 1: Mount Elbert

Sawatch Range

Estimated hiker use days in 2016: 25,000-30,000*

Approximation notes: *Indicates data drawn from CFI TRAFx recorders, with data gap and early/late season infills from either previous years or nearby peak data. All other estimates are interpolated from a correlation between TRAFx data and reported 14ers.com peak use statistics.

Range and overall totals are adjusted to account for the frequent practice of summiting multiple peaks in one day.

Most Visited Colorado Ranges by Fourteeners Use

Sawatch Range: 115,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
Front Range: 75,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
San Juan Mountains: 43,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
Mosquito Range: 34,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
Tenmile Range: 18,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
Sangre de Cristo Range: 17,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016
Elk Mountains: 9,000 estimated hiker use days in 2016

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >