Find Your Fourteener - Launching a Path Forward on Colorado's Iconic Peaks
Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, known as “Fourteeners,” are legendary among hiking aficionados. Every season people make 334,000 trips up one or more Fourteeners, making these some of the most popular hikes in the country. However, surging visitation is threatening fragile alpine biodiversity and critical water sources atop these peaks. The problem is particularly acute on the 48 Fourteeners that lie on Colorado’s National Forests.
In 2015, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative released a statewide Fourteeners Report Card noting that more than $24 million in baseline investments are needed to create sustainable routes to the summits of all of Colorado’s Fourteeners. Through the Find Your Fourteener campaign, the NFF and its partners are tackling these projects in a tiered and strategic effort.
Collaboration is necessary to improve the future for Fourteeners. The NFF is proud to partner with dedicated outdoor stewardship groups in Colorado to implement this important campaign.
The Find Your Fourteener campaign is a long-term effort to ensure that these enduring peaks remain healthy, accessible and inviting for decades to come.
As Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service said, “The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.” That future is now and the responsibility is ours.
How can you help?
Find Your Fourteener Priority Peaks & Projects
The three-year reconstruction project wrapped up in 2018, successfully moving Quandary Peak's Report Card grade from a C+ to an A. As hiking use numbers continue to surge, partners will continue working together on annual maintenance to ensure Quandary can sustain year-round recreation.
With the Dillon District of the White River National Forest, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Work will continue on the South Mt. Elbert Trail, focusing on restoration and construction above 11,000 feet. Elbert suffers from braided trails, destructive erosion, and degraded wildlife habitat. The new trail will be friendlier to hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians and ensure sustainable access for years to come.
With the Leadville District of the Pike & San Isabel National Forests, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Wildland Restoration Volunteers, Colorado Mountain Club, Get Outdoors Leadville and Lake County
In 2019, partners and youth corps will begin major realignment and construction of a new Devil’s Playground Trail, expected to take 4-5 years to complete. The popularity of this trail is growing, but gullies, erosion and loose rock are creating safety hazards for hikers and jeopardizing the habitat of rare alpine plants and wildlife.
With the Pikes Peak District of the Pike & San Isabel National Forests, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Colorado Mountain Club, Mile High Youth Corps, Friends of the Peak
Kit Carson Peak & Challenger Point
Deep in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, the user-created social trail leading to Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak is gullied, unsafe, and unpleasant for hikers. Partners are working to complete a new trail to protect the fragile environment and enhance the recreational experience for climbers. The partners will test creative new approaches to engage volunteers in a wilderness setting.
With the Rio Grande National Forest, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Southwest Conservation Corps
Grays Peak & Torreys Peak
Just West of Denver outside of Idaho Springs, partners are launching a new trail maintenance and reconstruction project to address major trail erosion and soil loss in the fragile alpine. Look for this concerted effort to involve trail crews, youth corps, and hundreds of volunteers each year.
With the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Wildland Restoration Volunteers and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.
Uncompahgre Peak & Wetterhorn Peak
In the gorgeous San Juan Mountains, this pair of scenic peaks may receive less use - but the impacts are growing. We're attempting to get ahead of the impacts. Partners are launching a 3-year maintenance effort focused on Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, Red Cloud and Handies Peaks.
With the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forest, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Southwest Conservation Corps, Bureau of Land Management and other partners
Alpine Stewards Training
Partners are working collaboratively with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado training specialists to create and pilot a training curriculum to share best practices for performing trail and restoration work in alpine environments. The training curriculum will provide an overview of alpine ecology, the importance of following Leave No Trace principles when working in these areas, how to manage work crews and risk above tree line, and fundamental technical skills unique to working on alpine trails. The curriculum is intended for any agency staff, youth corps or volunteer group performing work in alpine settings.
With Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Wildland Restoration Volunteers, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Leave No Trace, Southwest Conservation Corps
What's coming next?
The NFF and partners are excited to expand the Find Your Fourteener campaign each year. Future priorities include completion of trail reconstruction on Mt. Columbia, trail realignment and restoration on North Mount Elbert, additional training opportunities for volunteers and crews...and more!