Mt. Oxford - From Mt. Belford
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||5,800 feet|
|RT Length:||11.00 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Harvard|
|County Sheriff:||Chaffee: 719-539-2596
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Collegiate Peaks|
From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.
Follow Mt. Belford Route #1 to the summit of Mt. Belford. Oxford is 1.5 miles to the east and the connecting ridge between Belford and Oxford is obvious - Photo #1 and Photo #2. What you cannot see from here is that the hike down from Belford is steeper than the hike up to Oxford. But there is still a good trail throughout the entire traverse.
From the Belford summit, climb down from the summit rocks and follow the trail southeast across Belford - Photo #3. After 1/4 mile and still above 14,000', turn left and start down the ridge ( 38.95835° N, -106.35798° W) toward the Belford-Oxford saddle - Photo #4. Before the trail turns left, you may see another trail that bears right and eventually goes southwest toward Elkhead Pass between Belford and Missouri Mountain. Do not take this trail. Continue left toward the Belford-Oxford saddle below - Photo #5. Much of the remaining route is now visible - Photo #6. Follow the trail toward Oxford as it weaves down through the rocks (Photo #7) to reach the saddle ( 38.95963° N, -106.35055° W) at 13,500' - Photo #8.
From the saddle, you can see the good trail up Oxford. Cross the saddle and climb northeast up the easy ridge - Photo #9. Taken from Mt. Belford, Photo #10 is an overview of the remaining route to Oxford's summit. Near 14,000', pass a large rock pile along the ridge - Photo #11. The trail then turns left and right (Photo #12) before reaching the final pitch below the summit - Photo #13. Hike up through some easy rocks to reach the top ( 38.964680° N, -106.338432° W) - Photo #14, Photo #15 and Photo #16.
Photo #17, Photo #18 and Photo #19 show portions of the hike back to Mt. Belford, which is the most grueling part of this hike. Taken from Mt. Harvard, Photo #20 is a broad look at the route between Belford and Oxford.
This is not a walk in the park. You gain almost 6,000' of elevation if you get to Oxford and back. Bring a lot of water and start as early as possible. I recommend starting an hour before daybreak. The Missouri Gulch trail is excellent and easy to navigate with a light. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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