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Echoing previous reviews... this mountain is not to be trifled with. It's less of a hike and more of a challenging mountaineering route. If it's your first 14er, don't go. If you're not completely confident in your ability, don't go. If you didn't bring proper gear (helmet, layers for bad weather, lots of water) don't go. Uncomfortable with airy climbs and steep drop offs? Definitely don't go. Everything past the first gulley is steep, technical and relentless. Definitely review the route on 14ers.com. definitely get an alpine start - it will take considerably longer than other hikes of similar distances. Even if you don't have knee issues, poles are a game changer on the steep and loose descent. After branching off from Minnehaha Gulch, there is nearly zero chance to refill your water this time of year, so bring more than you think you'll need. All that said, it was very rewarding to make it to the top... feels like a major accomplishment. The view is epic from start to finish.

Gorgeous views and well maintained trail. Super popular too and pretty easy for a fourteener. You need a high clearance 4wd vehicle to get to the trailhead unless you want to add about 6 miles to the hike.

Be ready. Prepare. Physically and upstairs. And it will be one of the most memorable camping experiences. Period.

off road driving
4 days ago

We hiked both Castle and Conundrum on Saturday, August 11th and the conditions were perfect! I noted in the activity “off road driving” , because my review is trying to give what I think is a more accurate description of the road up to Montezuma Basin.

We rented a stock (bare-bones) Jeep Wrangler with street tires on it and drove all the way to the top of Montezuma Basin (around 12,800 ft). Many of the reviews we read stated the road was too difficult to drive. Our plan was to drive as far as we could and then park. I would agree four wheel drive is a must, but with careful wheel placement/driving it is actually not that difficult. My husband is an experienced 4x4 trail driver, so if that describes you, I would recommend driving up as far as you can go.

My only complaint of the trail is hiking on an old road is lame, so it was fun to drive up as far as we could. Doing this also cut out about 10 miles round trip, which on this particular trail was welcomed. Not the prettiest scenery along the trail we’ve seen, although the views from the summit are spectacular.

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful hike!! A lot of the negative comments below can be overcome by good alpine practices. The peak is very obviously exposed, you can see this easily from 285. An early alpine start helps with sun too. We started at 5:30 and summited 2.5 hours later. The trail is wonderfully marked, just look for the next 2-3 cairns, not only the one ahead. The trail moves through a scree field, not sure what the references to “huge boulders” are. There are some but it is more scree than scramble. All in all, be ready for a beautiful and engaging hike. Definitely worth driving the Jeep road if you have the car.

This was my husband and my first 14er. Granted we have nothing to compare it to and the views were awesome at the top, but I don’t think we will ever do this one again. It is 95% straight rock scramble with a very poorly marked trail. It took us 9 hours to do 7 miles, and we are not slow hikers. It just takes that much concentration that by the end you are not only physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted. Good time, but beware it’s all rocks.

One of the prettiest 14er climbs I’ve done. Really amazing views. One of the best maintained 14er trails I’ve seen too, bottom to top. As always, get started early. See too many folks starting too late in the day when afternoon lightning is a danger. Definitely need good clearance 4x4 to get to upper trailhead. Recommend camping in the plentiful dispersed campsites along the road to trail. Magnificent outdoors experiences.

My first 14er and it was tough but rewarding. Hiked it with my dad and we both loved it. Switch backs seemed never ending on the way down. Beautiful views all the way up and the summit is so rewarding!

Quite difficult, but worth it when you get to the top. Bring warm clothes!

Backpacked in a few miles Thursday night and woke up at 330 Friday to hike Mt. Columbia. The trail is being worked on and I wouldn't recommend using this route until the new trail is finished. Hiking up and down the gulley at the bottom of the mountain was definitely dangerous and very slippery, steep and filled with loose rocks and dirt. The summit was beautiful and the views were amazing!

I am looking for someone who has actually hiked both the hot springs and conundrum/castle peaks. Looking to do this hike this weekend and would like information on trail conditions, snow on trail, recent weather, any tips, trail finding difficulty, etc. If anyone could comment back on here, I'd be super grateful! Can't find much information online.

hiking
15 days ago

Lots and Lots of switch backs but a great well marked trail. Lots of people and parking is limited at trail head but overall a wonderful hike.

Total asskicker hike . Clipped them all for number 31. Heads up on this route listed in AllTrails. The route that is listed is a class 3/4 scramble on some of the worst rock I’ve seen . I scooted our 1/2 way but be aware it’s not a preferred route . Head down elk further and clip up the MO trail.

Started at 6 am finished by 3, trail ran most of it but the mileage is also off . Easy 16.5 with the full loop, my garmin died but I think it was closer to 18. Nothing hard about the climb, slight class 2 move right before summit of MO, go right and hug rock for the two, or straight over for a 3 . Again rock is pretty lose here . Nothing else technical but with the miles and altitude gain this was one of the hardest runs I’ve done !

Beautiful day and the views are totally worth it , start early and bring min 4 liter of water and some calories !

hiking
19 days ago

A great day, but it would have been better if we’d had a high clearance 4x4 to drive further up the road. We drove to a beautiful campsite about 1.3 miles up the road and hiked from there after sleeping the night before. The initial several miles are on a Jeep road that continually deteriorates as you climb. Once we reached the end of the road the real fun began. We had a fun snow climb up the right side of the snowfield. Steep, like climbing an expert ski run. We then picked up the trail and reached the ridge up Castle. Definitely follow the advice to stay in the ridge. I got sucked into following a trail to the right and had to climb a nasty, steep, and loose couloir to regain the ridge. Once I got back to the ridge it was easy going to the top. We then descended to the connecting saddle and climbed Conundrum, as well. The descent from the connecting saddle into the basin is loose and has a risk of rockfall after the snow melts out (like yesterday).

The hike out the road to our campsite was long but went well. All in all, a great day!

hiking
22 days ago

My eleventh fourteener and one of the hardest ones I've done. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and found this to be a tough hike. Would not recommend for a first fourteener. Steep right from the get-go and there's an endless amount of switchbacks. Wanted to go for Oxford but there were some dark clouds rolling in, so I skipped it to stay on the safe side but will come back for it another day.

Just finished today and the views are incredible!

Stunningly beautiful hike. The 4WD road can be scary for beginner 4x4 drivers (like me), but it's very doable if you go slowly and pick your line carefully. 4WD and at least 8" clearance are a must for that road.

The hike starts with a series of switchbacks in the woods, then crosses a beautiful basin, then ascends across many switchbacks up the side of the mountain, and finally ascends a steep, rocky boulder field. It's very doable, though challenging for beginner 14erers, yet oh so worth it at the summit. Probably the most beautiful 14er summit I've seen.

This was my first 14er, and I think it’s a great one to start with for beginners. Elevation gain is steep in parts, but not unbearable. Really amazing views, even if you don’t summit. There’s a beautiful meadow at about 12,500 ft.
ABSOLUTELY NEED 4-WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE! You can get to Winfield ok without, but not much farther unless you want to hike a few miles to the trailhead. The last couple miles to the trailhead are full of large rocks, uneven surface, some deep holes and an occasional stream. Plenty of spots along the road to pull off and park/camp.

We did this on July 5th. It was 2 of our friend’s first 14ers (one her first week living in CO). All 6 of us did fine. Minimal long breaks and a decent amount of short stop, go stop go breaks. All avid hikers, but the last mile is brutal. There is no trail lots of rock climbing. A helicopter landed down the trail above treelike while we were approaching the top...be cautious and leave early! A storm came in fast around noon, it stayed away but still! Beautiful hike and a great 14er to make 11 down!

Incredibly strenuous hike. The loop accesses three 14ers in the San Isabel National Forest. Mt. Missouri (14,067), Mt. Oxford (14,153) and Mt. Belford (14,197).

Word of caution: this is closer to a 17 mile loop, NOT 12. I don't know where All Trails sees a path on the eastern slope of Missouri, but it is non-existent. Instead, you have to take a mile longer (but probably safer and less severe) route and come from the west. From there, the mileage is still off.

We arrived at the parking lot at 4:50am on a Saturday and it was already full. We camped nearby, and there are plenty of spaces. Most of the hikers head to Belford, but for this loop you want to take Missouri first. You'll do this by following the path towards Fikhead Pass. As noted above, you'll come up the western side of Missouri. You have to come back down this way and up the pass to access Belford/Oxford.

We were going to hit all three but storms came in at noon and we had to hike out, only hit Missouri and Belford. Normally, you'll want to be off the mountain by 2. Our storms hit at noon.

You can view the hike we made here: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2869855938

Great trail, nice hike and overnight stay. Not as dirty as everyone says. however the summit trail is long gone on this side of castle and conundrum peak. Unless you want to ascend a scree slide at a 60 degree angle for 3k+ vertical feet.

So beautiful and my favorite 14er so far! The wildflowers were so pretty and there was a water fall to the right as your hiking up to summit. Nice clean non rocky trail the most of the way. Then just 5 to 10 minutes before the summit was boulder field.
Amazing and recommend for a first 14er!

We went up the 4wd road 3.2 to the towers and the road is very narrow and you need a truck or Jeep, it it pretty deep rollers and dips. We parked there and walked up the road close to 2 miles before you even get on the trail. It was not our favorite it’s very exposed no trees to start and it’s basically boulders the whole way. It raps around the valley and then you get up to summit and it’s all loose rocks and dirt. Not well maintained at all.
Not our most memorable and no wild flowers just stinky weeds.

This hike is amazing! Very strenuous and long, we started at the trailhead at 5 am and finished around 2:30 pm. The elevation change is very difficult; we did the hike without trekking poles but I definitely recommend them. There are some spots where they would've been very helpful. Make sure to bring alot of water and take some breaks, 16.5 miles is no walk in the park.

Drove my lifted wrangler up the four wheel drive round as far as you could go (to the gate and giant cairn where the trail starts) nothing technical about the road but you definitely want a high clearance 4wd vehicle. Not my favorite 14er. The whole trail is just huge boulders the whole way up. The views are nice at the top. Wasn’t very hard compared to other ones I’ve done.

Well maintained and easy to follow trail straight to the summit. Beautiful Amazing Views. Great Hike. Worth a repeat anytime. Note the trail head road you will need good AWD/4WD with good ground clearance!

Amazing amazing amazing. Views are surreal. Climb is a good burn. Excellent trail. Will gladly do this one again.

hiking
1 month ago

Relatively terrifying. Decent amount of exposure and loose rock. Unfortunately this trail is wearing down badly making it a little more difficult. Huge thanks to the ladies who picked my friend and I up and drove us up the 4x4 road to save us some time, and thank you to the more experienced climbers out there who helped us find a safe route down from the summit.

Good luck getting up this road even with 4WD— you’re going to need pretty high clearance on this one. I would also recommend prior experience on 14ers, unless you’re fearless.

1 month ago

I love the beginning of this hike next to the stream. Kinda tough to find the trail near summit through the big rocks.

I started at the bottom parking lot as there is no way I would drive up that road. Lots of others do with the right vehicles and I still wouldn’t do it, then there are those that attempt with a low clearance vehicle, nuts! Because of the road it is fairly easy to hike, steep but okay. This is my first Fourteener so it will take me more than once to reach the top, especially from the lower parking lot. I sort of feel those that drive up are just cheating. I could do it in a heartbeat if I did that. I made it up about 5.5 miles today at 11500’ still had two more miles to go but was tired and hot. I started at 830am but will start at sunrise the next time to stay cool and more shaded. I did a total of a little over 11 miles so the total for this round trip would probably be just over 15.

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