The strenuous hike to Elkhead Pass, one of the highest passes in Colorado, steeply ascends scenic Missouri Gulch to a 13,220-ft. pass with wonderful panoramic views of the 13,000-ft and 14,000-ft. peaks looming above the expansive meadows of Missouri Basin.
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Why Hike Missouri Gulch / Elkhead Pass
The Elkhead Pass/Missouri Gulch hike is a great illustration of why I like hiking to a pass. Upon arriving at Elkhead Pass a dramatic panorama unfolds all at once. Mt. Harvard (14,414-ft.), to the southeast, and Mt. Belford (14,197-ft.), to the northeast, anchor a jagged cirque of 13,000 and 14,000-ft peaks that tower above the expansive meadows of beautiful Missouri Basin. Mt. Yale (14,194-ft.) rises to the south beyond the cirque. To the north vistas extend to Mount Hope (13,933-ft.), Quail Mountain and, in the distance, Mt. Elbert (14,433-ft.).
The hike starts with a stiff climb up the timbered southern slopes of the Clear Creek Valley and then enters Missouri Gulch. Soon the trees give way to scenic meadows and for the last 3 miles the hike traverses a gorgeous basin with wonderful views of Mt. Belford (14,197-ft.) and Missouri Mountain (14,076-ft.).
From the pass hikers with the time and energy can climb Mt. Belford. Beyond the pass the trail drops into the Missouri Basin and links with the Pine Creek trail, creating interesting options for backpacking trips.
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