Located just 60 miles from the heart of Denver Colorado, The Kelso Ridge trail is a class 3 scramble up Torreys peak. Which along with neighboring Greys Peak, are two of the most summited 14ers in Colorado. The two 14,000+ ft peaks are located next to each other sharing a saddle that connects the two making it the perfect day trip from Denver to hit two 14ers in one hike. While most hikers choose to take the class 1 trail up to either or both peaks. For those seeking a bit more adventure there is the Kelso Ridge and it’s famous knife’s edge crossing.
Tips for Hiking the Kelso Ridge Trail
Get there as early as possible – As I mentioned above, this is one of the most popular climbs in Colorado with everyone leaving from the same parking lot. I would recommend you getting there by 5 am if you are looking to get a parking spot and avoid the major crowd.
Make sure you acclimate – With it’s close proximity to Denver, it may be tempting to stay in the capital then head up and hike Kelso Ridge. But unless you are from Colorado or have been there for a while I’d recommend staying up in the mountains a day or two before you try this hike. My group stayed 2 nights in Breckenridge to acclimate, having coming from Atlanta. And I’ll be honest, it was tough. Two days later I climbed Quandary Peaks West Ridge and it was amazing the difference of that spending 2 vs 4 days at elevation had on our breathing.
Check the weather – The Rockies are notorious for afternoon thunderstorms. Just make sure to check the forecast before you leave and get started as early as possible.
Wear a helmet – This climbs has a lot of loose rocks and scree that will be falling behind climbers. All it takes is one piece to ruin your day and be life-flighted out. It happens every year.
Gear To Bring
Helmet – Protect your head and look cool doing it. Check out the Black Diamond Half Dome here.
Shoes – I love the Hoka One One Torrents. But really any good trail runner with good traction will work.
Day Pack – You are going to need water, food, first aid kit (one per group), and anything else you may want. I’d recommend anything from 12 to 25 liters will be plenty for most people. Just make sure it’s comfortable and secure to your body.
Water Bottle – I’d recommend a water bottle over camel back. At 14,000ft it’s hard to breathe and even drink. Being able to squeeze the water directly into your mouth makes it much easier. Bringing 2 liters of water is never a bad idea.
Water Purifier – Do yourself a favor and get a Sawyer Mini water filter. The Sawyer makes it easy to fill your bottle or bladder on the trail and can be cleaned and used for years.
Food/Fuel – Easily digestible carbs, protein, sugar, and salts are perfect for quick energy while on the trail! We typically make a few different sandwiches with 4+ snacks each.
The Approach Rout
Getting to the trail split is pretty easy. You will be following the main trail for about 1.8/1.9 miles before splitting off to the Kelso Ridge to the right. It’s here you will split from the hikers taking the main trail up, and where the real adventure begins.
There will be a white rock cairn marking the split.
Once you break off to the right you will follow a short trail leading you to the base of the Kelso Ridge Trail. At the saddle of the ridge there is a flat section. This is where we decided to helmet up and grab a quick bite to eat before starting the climb.
From here the trail will take you on a stead but manageable climb. This is the perfect time to soak in the surroundings and take in the climb ahead. Believe me, it’s going to get tougher!
From here the real climbing begins. There are more class 3 sections that I care to cover so I highly recommend reading the 14ers.com trail review as well as a few of the videos I’ve included to give you a better understanding of all of that’s involved with this class 3 scramble.
Looking back at the Knifes Edge on the Kelso Ridge.
14ers.com Pics and Info
Kelso Ridge Videos
A great video showing the full trail.
Another good quality video, although I don’t recommend crossing the knife edge like they do.
And just the Knifes Edge.
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