National Forest Foundation

Preserving the Wonder of Colorado’s 14ers: Mt. Columbia and Kit Carson Peak/Challenger Point

Treasured Landscapes


For the NFF and all of our Find Your Fourteener partners across Colorado, 2020 was a year of learning, adaptation, and evolution. The season didn’t look like we imagined, but thanks to ingenuity and drive, our organizations collectively experienced a tremendous amount of success.

For two peaks, Mt. Columbia and Kit Carson Peak/Challenger Point, 2020 was especially significant. This year represented the final, conclusive year of multi-year, highly technical new trail construction efforts. While we couldn’t carry out the larger public celebrations we had planned for each project, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the awesome work that occurred on each peak over the past five years.

Hikers aiming to reach Columbia and Kit Carson Peak/Challenger Point will benefit from a safer, more enjoyable experience as they reach 14,000+ feet. And the surrounding National Forest lands – the alpine environment, plant and wildlife habitat, and water sources – will be immeasurably protected for years to come.

Now, we’d like to showcase some of the incredible work across both peaks!

Mt. Columbia’s world-class trail, constructed by crews from the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Southwest Conservation Corps, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, was designed by the U.S. Forest Service Fourteeners Program to be durable and withstand thousands of hikers each year. It’s also quite scenic.

Crews on Mt. Columbia and Kit Carson used technical rock rigging techniques and highline tram systems to utilize large boulders for the construction effort. These skills requires training and capacity building over time to acquire.

The staircases and other features along the new Mt. Columbia trail are receiving wide acclaim for their construction, sustainability, and aesthetics.

Hiker pass Willow Lake en route to Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point – a gorgeous rest point that also serves as an important source of water for downstream communities. (Photo by Kellon Spencer Photography)

The incredible new approach trail to Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point was constructed by crews from the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) and Southwest Conservation Corps, along with volunteers, and students from RMFI’s innovative Earth Corps program. (Photo by Kellon Spencer Photography)

New, sustainable trails like those to Mt. Columbia and Kit Carson are good for people – but also benefit wildlife habitat and wildlife, along with water, rare plants, and other important resources. (Photo by Kellon Spencer Photography

Thank you to the many partners and funders who made these projects happen! Both projects benefitted from a diverse array of supporters over the past five years. Support from the Telluray Foundation was critical in bringing the projects over the finish line in 2020. Thank you, Telluray Foundation!

Related Posts

Mt. Columbia: The Final Year of a Historic Project

Mt. Columbia has experienced increasingly heavy foot traffic in the past decade. Prior to the new trail construction, hikers used a social trail that ascended straight up a loose scree field. The lack of a sustainable trail caused heavy erosion and damage to the fragile alpine ecosystem and the unstable trail conditions made for dangerous hiking.

Read more

Fourteener Stewardship Moves Forward in 2020

After months of planning and preparation, Find Your Fourteener campaign partners are preparing for the biggest season yet in terms of dollars invested and work completed. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused plans to shift, evolve and adapt, many fourteener-related projects are moving forward as planned.

Read more

Finding Fourteeners…and Ticking Them off Our Stewardship Bucket List

With the Forest Service and nine other outstanding stewardship organizations, the NFF launched the Find Your Fourteener campaign in 2017 to harness our collective expertise to help ensure sustainable access to Fourteeners. The Find Your Fourteener campaign goal is to increase the pace and scale of improvements to sustainable recreation opportunities on Colorado’s Fourteeners. Read on for what’s on our Fourteeners stewardship bucket list in 2019!

Read more

Course Corrections

A heady conference and a rocky Sierra river crashed together for me recently, providing a powerful reminder of how small course corrections can fundamentally change dynamics in a situation. In Denver, I participated in a 300-person conference on collaborative forest restoration organized by the NFF.

Read more

ReWilding L.A.’s Backyard – 10 Ways the NFF has Supported the San Gabriel Mountains with REI

Since 2016 REI has generously supported the National Forest Foundation’s work on the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument through the REI ReWilding initiative, which promotes access to our public lands for people in large urban and suburban areas like Los Angeles. Together with our local partners, here are 10 things that our partnership with REI has helped us to accomplish on the Monument.

Read more

Share this post on social media


Support on-the-ground conservation

Help ensure the NFF and our partners can continue doing important work like this on our National Forests.

Donate Now