Summit 14,000-foot peaks
The Colorado Rockies' overwhelming natural grandeur have the power to consume the senses. Here colossal mountains, pristine lakes, abundant wildlife and wildflower-filled meadows all challenge your sense of scale. Hike some of the highest peaks in the contiguous United States, explore old mines from past eras and take in views that go on for seemingly forever. At night, relax in a charming cabin nestled in the heart of the mountains and reflect on your epic surroundings.
For those who of us who live at sea level, we know hiking at higher altitudes is a challenge that requires time for acclimatization. Our journey is strategically designed so you can maximize your experience in the Rockies. Day one is your day for travel and relaxation in your new home at 11,264 feet. Day two is a beautiful intermediate hike to Mohawk Lake, a pristine mountain lake at 12,120 feet. Day three is your first opportunity to "test" your body's adjustment to altitude as we summit Quandary Peak at 14,265 feet. Day four is a relaxing day in Breckenridge where you can go whitewater rafting, mountain biking or simply take in the charming town. Day five is our final summit challenge as we climb Mount Lincoln (14,286'), Democrat (14,155') and Bross (14,178'), all connected by a high ridge-line and obtainable in one day. While this is an effective strategy for the altitude, you always have the option of taking it easy and enjoying the mountains at a lower elevation. We will have two Discover Outdoors guides to assist with any changes in plans. Our singular goal is for you to have an amazing and safe experience.
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Register by April 15th to take advantage of early bird pricing.
- WEDNESDAY, JULY 26
- Arrive in Denver, drive to cabin
- THURSDAY, JULY 27
- Hike to Mohawk Lake
- FRIDAY, JULY 28
- Summit Quadary Peak
- SATURDAY, JULY 29
- Explore Breckenridge
- SUNDAY, JULY 30
- Summit Mount Democrat, Lincoln and Bross
- MONDAY, JULY 31
- Final Day, fly out of Denver
Adventure travel trips are confirmed three months in advance (April 29th) and require a minimum of six registrants. If your trip is not confirmed at that time, you'll receive a 100% refund. If you'd like to check a trip's status before purchasing flights, you can email [email protected]
Arrive in Denver, Colorado
Your flight into Denver might give you a view of the Rocky Mountains where you will soon be spending the next five days. Upon landing, your Discover Outdoors guide will drive you and your fellow hikers to our backcountry cabin, located just south of Breckenridge, Colorado. The afternoon and evening will be a time for relaxing and exploring the area around the cabin while getting to know your group. Over dinner we will go over the itinerary for the days ahead and discuss any questions you have. (Meals: D)
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 2,980 miles from the northernmost part of British Columbia to New Mexico. The range's highest peak is Mount Elbert located just southwest of our peaks in Colorado. Though part of North America's Pacific Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the Pacific Mountain System, which are located directly adjacent to the Pacific coast. The Rockies were formed about 70 million years ago in the Cretaceous, by the Laramide orogeny. Since then, erosion by water and glaciers have sculpted the mountain range into dramatic valleys and peaks. At the end of the last ice age, humans started to inhabit the mountain range. Europeans, such as Sir Alexander MacKenzie and the Lewis and Clark expedition, started to explore the range. Minerals and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range never became densely populated.
Celebrate your first full day in beautiful Colorado! Today you will be truly free from all things stressful, including your iPhone. After a hearty breakfast, we will set out for a full day hike to Mohawk Lake. On this relatively low-altitude, yet challenging hike, we will see beautiful water falls, mining ruins and a pristine lake. We will enjoy a relaxing lunch by Mohawk Lake while taking in amazing views all around us. The trail starts just a short walk below our cabin. Starting in thick forest, the trail has modest elevation gain as a good warmup for what lies ahead. The best part about hiking through this area is the sound of the aspen trees creaking. It's not very often you hear that sound. After a short distance, the trail turns upward and you begin to gain more elevation. The sounds of Continental Falls increasingly get louder as you approach the beautiful cascades. Just ahead lie the mining ruins from long ago, along with an old cabin used for emergency shelter. A little further and we are at Mohawk Lake, our peak for the day. (Meals: B, L, D)
- Starting Elevation 10,420 feet
- Peak Elevation 12,120 feet
- Hiking Distance 7 miles
Quandary Peak is the highpoint of Colorado's Tenmile Range, an aesthetically-pleasing and rugged chain of peaks stretching south from Frisco to the Continental Divide. The trail begins in a thick forest of pine and aspen before reaching the tree line. Once above the trees, a new world of spectacular views opens up. To the south, a sharp neighboring ridge acts as a divider between Quandary and four neighboring Fourteeners in the Mosquito Range. To the north is an amazing (and huge) natural amphitheater filled with snow surrounding a high mountain lake. Pike’s Peak is also easily seen to the south. Wildlife encounters are common on Quandary and if we are lucky, we may meet local white mountain goats. Tonight we celebrate and toast to an amazing week of high-altitude adventure. (Meals: B, L, D)
- Starting Elevation 10,836 feet
- Peak Elevation 14,265 feet
- Hiking Distance 6.8 miles
Today is yours to relax and give your legs a rest. We will drive into the charming ski town of Breckenridge where you can choose from a number of options including mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting and shopping. At the beginning of the week, we will get a sense for who wants to do what activities and then get a price based on our numbers. (Meals: B, D)
Whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River is not for the timid. Lots of continuous Class IV and V whitewater and thundering rapids, including Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer, Wall Slammer and many others make this one of the most exhilarating trips offered anywhere. The river winds beneath the Royal Gorge bridge providing spectacular scenery and an action-packed ride you won't forget. Price, $95
Breckenridge is continually expanding and improving its recreational territory, opening up miles of dirt roads and trails to mountain bikers and hikers, connecting the mountain town with seemingly endless Rocky Mountain wilderness. Breckenridge is an up-and-coming "fat tire" destination boasting countless miles of trails for all abilities, world-class mountain biking events and mountain bike clinics throughout the summer. Mountain Bike Rental, $55
The Colorado Rockies contain some of the best fishing waters in North America. The town of Breckenridge and adjacent mountains are no different. Blue Ribbon waters are abundant around Breckenridge. Casting your fly in the afternoon sun, while soaking in the views of the nearby Ten Mile Range, is a great way to spend a lazy day. The Blue River, which flows south to north, meanders directly through the heart of Breckenridge, Colorado. The clear waters of the Blue River contain healthy Rainbows, fat Browns and an occasional Native Cutthroat. Price varies on group size.
Mount Democrat, Lincoln and Bross
Today is a defining segment of the entire trip as three major "Fourteeners" will be hiked. After a full day and a half of acclimatizing our bodies, we should be in good position to summit these great peaks. The trail starts at a small alpine body of water, Kite Lake, at about 12,000 feet. Much of our day's work will come in the first mile as we traverse our way to Mount Democrat. After a well-earned break and breathtaking views, our hike continues to Mount Lincoln. Lincoln, at 14,286 feet in elevation is the eighth highest mountain in Colorado and only 208 feet shy of the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney. Once we have enough pictures (evidence of our bagged peaks) our hike continues to Mount Bross. On a clear day, from the summit of Bross you can spot Pikes Peak, a beautiful mountain near Colorado Springs over 50 miles away. After Bross, we complete our circuit heading down to Kite Lake. Back at the cabin, well-deserved cold beverages and lip-smacking dinner await. (Meals: B, L, D)
- Starting Elevation 12,000 feet
- Peak Elevation 14,286 feet
- Hiking Distance 5.4 miles
Final Day in Colorado
After sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we pack up our bags and say goodbye to our beloved cabin. Your guides will drive you to the Denver International Airport for your flight home. (Meal: B)
As you explore the Colorado Rockies, you will be led by professional trail guides, dedicated to providing safe and educational experiences. Our guides are trained in wilderness medicine and are seasoned leaders, demonstrating good judgement, technical expertise, and environmental consciousness. Our guides are ever aware of their clients' needs and work hard to make your trip successful.
Each evening you will retire to our backcountry cabin nestled in the heart of the Rockies' dramatic peaks. The cabin, while rustic, is comfortable with room to relax and discuss the conquests of the day. Bedrooms are shared, with single beds as well as bunks. Bathrooms have indoor composting toilets and there are no showers. Amenities include a wood burning stove, sauna, full kitchen and solar-powered lights. Our water comes from a nearby stream.
We will have the cabin fully stocked with food and drinks for the entire week. Your guides will prepare a delicious dinner each night and an occasional blueberry pancake breakfast. The only meals not included are during your travel days (dinner at the hut will be included the first night) and your day in Breckenridge.
- Professional trail guides
- Almost every meal
- Park entrance fees
- Backcountry cabin
- Roundtrip transportation from Denver International Airport
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airfare to Denver International Airport
- Meals on travel days
- Optional activities in Breckenridge
- Gratuity for your guides
Hiking the Fourteeners does not require technical climbing skills or experience. It does, however, require a minimum level of physical fitness. We strongly encourage our hikers to experience hiking on rugged trails, particularly on steep up and down hills, since this is much of what you will experience in the Rockies. It is an undeniable fact that those who are in good shape are more likely to enjoy the view from the summit! Those who engage in regular exercise before hiking at high altitude do just fine on the ascent. Give oneself adequate time—at least a couple of months—to prepare, particularly if this form and intensity of exercise is new. For three days a week, focus on an hour or more of aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. Gym equipment such as stairmasters and rowing machines can supplement cardiovascular training. Day hikes or other longer endeavors will help prepare one for the endurance required in the Rockies. Carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack uphill on trails or stadium steps will simulate the real climb better than anything. Lifting moderate weights to increase core body, leg, and arm strength is also a good idea. Focus on quads and hamstrings—legs need strength and endurance. Being generally fit and having some solid stamina for long days is the overall goal.
The high elevations in the Rockies have stopped otherwise fit people who did not take the time to acclimate. To help one’s body adjust to the thinner and drier air, you must first hydrate. Drinking enough water markedly improves athletic performance and helps to prevent altitude mountain sickness. Before and during your hike, aim for 4-5 quarts of fluid a day. Make sure your water is readily accessible. During the ascent, hydration systems like Camelbacks, or a water bottle on your hip will provide easy access to your water. Sport drink mixes like Gatorade are highly recommended; they promote drinking and help replenish electrolytes. Avoid too much alcohol and caffeine, as these have the effect of dehydrating your body. If you have never been to high altitude before, do not worry, everyone has a first time. Keep your guide posted on any physical symptoms you may be experiencing. If you have had trouble with altitude in the past, please let us know ahead of time and consult with your physician before you come.
Please make sure you arrive by 12:00 PM the first day. It is best to schedule your return flight no earlier than 3:00 PM on the final day.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The high mountain areas have extremely variable weather. The evenings can turn cold and the days can warm up substantially, even in the alpine environment. Strong winds, rain, hail, even summer snow showers may be encountered. Expect early morning starts to avoid afternoon thundershowers!
All breakfasts and dinners will be provided including coffee, teas, and hot chocolate. If you have food intolerances or allergies, please notify our office. Lunch ingredients will be laid out in the morning for you to make your own, perfect sandwich or wrap. Plan for a half pound of trail/lunch food per day with a variety of many small snacks. Delicious dinners will be prepared for you in the evenings.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CANCELLATION POLICY
Please read our terms and conditions and call us with any questions you may have about the trip before booking. A gear and departure check-list will be sent to you upon booking confirmation. Cancellations within 45 days of departure are non-refundable. Cancellations before 45 days of departure will receive a full refund (minus transaction fees of 5%).
If you are unsure of what to bring, give us a call or send us an email! Our staff is happy to help ensure you are comfortably outfitted for your trip. To prepare yourself for the activities, join Discover Outdoors on any of our local day trips. Our trained guides will coach you and offer helpful tips in preparing for your big adventure. Below is a list of equipment for this trip. The specific gear considerations are designed to prepare you for all possible conditions. For questions about the gear list, please contact our office at 212-579-4568 or [email protected]
- Two water bottles or Camelback Backpack
- Hiking boots with sturdy soles
- Hiking socks, four pairs
- Gloves, two pair
- Warm hat
- Sun-blocking hat (baseball cap)
- Base top layer (wicking t-shirts)
- Heavy layer (sweater or fleece)
- Hking pants
- Hiking shorts
- Long underwear/thermals
- Waterproof jacket
- Casual wear for around the cabin
- Sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees (beds have mattresses, but no linens)
- Biodegradable soap and shampoo
- Medications, prescription and non-prescription
- Small towel and washcloth
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Binoculars for viewing wildlife
This event or trip is Intensity Level 8
ADVENTURES AT ALL SKILL LEVELS
We offer adventures for everyone, no matter what your skill level. This guide will help you decide which trip is right for you.
How long (in hours) you may be active every day during the trip.
You should feel confident that you would be able to complete these distances every day of your trip.
What types of terrain you may encounter and should be prepared for on your trip.
The largest elevation change you may encounter on your trip.
The highest elevation you may reach on your trip.
LAID-BACK, UNHURRIED, RESTFUL
Welcome to the outdoors! These trips are designed to introduce you to new challenges and new adventurers. Take in the scenery, tackle moderate elevation, experience some local flavor, and enjoy your day out of the office.
You can expect to be active for one to two hours. To prepare, walk around your neighborhood for at least one hour to make sure you’re comfortable being outdoors and active.
For our Level 1 trips, you’ll be walking or hiking less than three miles. This is the equivalent of up to twelve laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on flat terrain. This means there will be limited rocks and a few tree roots.
There will be little or no elevation change on this trip. To simulate the change in elevation, try walking up and down three flights of stairs.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
Level 2 trips complement introductory activities you would encounter on Level 1 trips and will whet the appetite of anybody looking to explore outdoor sports. Your group may stop occasionally to learn about the natural surroundings and their local lore.
You can expect to be active for two to three hours. Take a long walk around your local park for at least two hours to prepare.
Level 2 trips range from two to four miles. This is approximately eight to sixteen laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on mostly flat terrain and may encounter some rocks and tree roots.
There will be minimal elevation change on this trip. We will gain no more than 500 vertical feet.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
EASY ACTIVE — PERFECT FOR ACTIVE FIRST-TIMERS
Level 3 trips will give you a broad sense of what hiking is all about. Test yourself on intermediate terrain, including light rock scrambles and ascending multiple peaks. The trips will invigorate you and inspire you to continue strengthening your hiking skills.
Three to five hours is standard. Prepare for the trip by jogging three miles or exercising two or three days a week.
Plan on getting starter miles under your belt. You’ll be hiking three to six miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long basketball game.
You’ll be hiking on rolling terrain with bare rock surfaces, steeps, roots and small boulders.
There could be up to 1,000 feet per day.
Up to 4,500 feet.
IDEAL FOR ACTIVE BEGINNERS AND FORMER PARTICIPANTS
Level 4 trips balance physical and aesthetic components of the day. Get your heart pumping on intermediate terrain with some rock scrambles and multiple peaks, then enjoy a well-earned break with a stunning view. These trips are effective preparation for even more challenging weekend-long trips.
Trail time ranges from for four to six hours. You should be in good physical shape and exercise at least three times a week to get the most out of the day.
You’ll be traveling five to eight miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long soccer game.
You’ll be hiking on steadily rising terrain with loose rock surfaces, switchbacks, roots and small boulders.
Up to 1,500 feet per day.
Up to 6,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR SKILLED BEGINNERS AND INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS
Level 5 trips place greater emphasis challenging you physically. Whether you’re still new to the scene or have some experience, you’ll appreciate a more deliberate pace with a capable group.
We’ll be out on the trails for five to seven hours. Prepare for this trip by doing cardio and strength exercise at least three days a week.
Be ready to cover six to nine miles today before heading home.
We’ll be hiking on moderate mountainous terrain, which may require navigating various rock faces and trail conditions including steep inclines and uneven ground.
Up to 1,800 feet per day.
Up to 8,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS AND ABOVE
Level 6 trips will push you with a faster pace and longer distances. This hard work allows you to see more terrain and higher vistas. You should expect to be tired and fulfilled on the van ride home.
We’ll be active for five to eight hours. Prepare for this trip by maintaining your daily fitness regime that includes both cardio and strength.
Be ready to cover some serious distance. We may hike up to eleven miles today, nearly a half-marathon.
We’ll be hiking on varying mountainous terrain, which will involve navigating various rock faces, loose stones, and steep, uneven trails.
Up to 2,000 feet per day.
Up to 10,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS WITH BASIC SKILLS
On Level 7 trips you’ll encounter some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available within a day’s drive. These trips are for athletic types and those who wish to push their physical abilities.
You can expect to be active for six to eight hours. You can best prepare for a Level 7 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below eight minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 7 hikes can be anywhere from ten to thirteen miles.
We will be on mountainous, exposed terrain and steep, uneven trails. Most hikes will require not only hiking boots but also additional gear like hiking poles and headlamps.
Up to 2,500 feet per day.
Up to 12,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — RECOMMENDED FOR FIT TRAVELERS WITH EXPERIENCE
On Level 8 trips you’ll be challenged by some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available on the east coast. These trips are for endurance athletes and those who wish to truly test themselves. These are our hardest day trips and our weekend trips that prepare you for international adventure.
We will be active for six to nine hours. You can best prepare for a Level 8 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below seven minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 8 hikes range from twelve to fourteen miles.
We will hike and scramble up numerous peaks with exposed, uneven surfaces, large boulders, and steep ascents/descents. Hiking boots, poles and headlamps are recommended.
There could be elevation change of up to 3,000 feet per day and possible altitude.
Up to 14,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — ADVANCED OR VERY FIT TRAVELERS
If you yearn to touch the sky and think the rewards outweigh the risks and extreme conditions, a Level 9 trip is what you’re looking for. Over the course of multiple days you will be called upon to prove you belong among the best. Only inner fortitude and perseverance will get you and your team to the top and back safely.
You should be ready for at least eight to ten hours a day of pain, challenge, and constant small victories. Prepare for this by racing in triathlons, training for a marathon and keeping up your hiking skills.
You should expect to be hiking twelve to fifteen miles per day.
On Level 9 trips you will be trekking in remote mountains with exposed terrain and loose features.
There could be elevation change of 4,000 feet per day with some altitude travel likely.
Up to 17,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — EXPERIENCED TRAVELERS WITH EXPERT SKILLS
With the proper technique, experience, and a generous dose of luck, you and a team of the hardiest adventurers around will tackle extreme terrain, unrelenting elements, and improbable odds as you strive to conquer the ultimate outdoor challenge of our Level 10 trips.
You should be ready for a minimum of ten hours per day of excruciating hiking, scrambling, and climbing.
You should expect to be hiking for at least twelve miles per day. Prepare with an intense cardio and weight-lifting circuit training regimen to increase cardio output and endurance.
On Level 10 trips you will be trekking in the most highly exposed, remote terrain imaginable.
There could be elevation change of 5,000 feet per day and prolonged travel at altitude.
Up to 19,000 feet.