Start Elevation: 11,669 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,060 ft.
Elevation Gain: 2391 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 7.00 mi (based on the books)
TRIP REPORT:This was our 4th 14er attempt. After having conquered Quandary, Sherman, and Uncompahgre we decided we'd continue to stick to the easier hikes. The Bierstadt challenge begins with the fun drive up Guanella Pass. This is where the "fun" stopped. We readied ourselves in the parking lot at Guanella Pass and immediately found ourselves off track. Somehow we missed the clear Bierstadt trail leading from the parking lot and started onto a small side trail that simply led us into the willows. If there were two words to describe this beginning it would be Wet and muddy. Our adventure in the willows was to follow one faint trail segment to another while crawling through thick willow bushes and lots and lots of puddles and mud. It took forever to make our way through this mess.
When we finally left the willows, with soaking wet feet and shoes, the easier climbing began. From 11,800 and on its a hike up the western shoulder of Bierstadt. The push to the summit was quite uneventful compared to the beating we took from the willows. The other highlight of the day came as we were descending the trail on Bierstadt and finally realized our morning mistake. From above it was much easier to stay on and follow the main trail all the way back to the parking lot, avoiding most of the willows and staying much drier.