Stanley Mountain Colorado (12,521 feet) an Easy Altitude Acclimatization for Newcomers Preparing to Tackle Some 14ers — A Review for Hikers with Joint Disease, Joint Replacements, or Mild Neuromuscular Deficiencies

© 2013 Peter Free


19 December 2013


Stanley Mountain, Colorado, panoramic photograph by Peter Free for his review of the hike.


This is one of the easiest hikes in Colorado to do and to get to


The Stanley Mountain (12,521 feet/3,816 meters) — roughly four-mile (6.4 kilometers) one way trail — starts from the parking lot atop Colorado’s Berthoud (11,304 feet/3,445 meters) pass.  Cross the highway to get to it and go.


There is only one steep switchbacked section.  The rest is flattish and ideal for speeding along, even if you are as negatively impacted by arthritis and mild neuromuscular deficiencies as I am.


Views are open and spectacular almost all the way.



You can read more here


James Dziezynski, Best Summit Hikes in Colorado, Wilderness Press (2007, third printing 2010) (pages 150-153)





The trail to Stanley (from Berthoud Pass) is not a good introduction to 14er hiking.  It is much too easy.  But, its 11,000 plus elevation is good familiarization with exertion at Colorado’s altitudes.


The trail also has the virtue of being short and easy enough that, if mountain sickness does strike, you can relatively quickly return to your car and descend to below 8,000 feet.



Finding Stanley’s summit


Ordinarily Colorado peaks are obvious.  But this one is not.


Stanley’s summit consists of a relatively low and innocuous pile of rocks sitting beside the incoming trail.  Instead of going up this summit (if it can be called that), the trail curves away to go downhill toward what is called the “Stanley Wall”.


The Wall is an attention-getting, decreasing radius drop on the mountain’s north-facing side.  Steep, as in, “If I fall, I’m going to helplessly roll and slide a thousand feet down.”


If you do wind up starting to hike downhill, even in a direction away from the Wall, you will know that you have gone too far.



For runners


The Stanley Mountain trail is ideal for mountain runners, especially those who like to go fast enough to challenge their ability to make quick and solid foot placements.



The moral? — I cannot recommend Stanley Mountain highly enough to people new to Colorado hiking


It is a beautiful and easy hike.  Perfect for acclimatizing oneself to lung-puffing at noticeable altitude.  Easy to drive to and easy to back-hike out of, if mountain sickness strikes.


Try it, even if you are as decrepit as I am.  Take trekking poles to help you cope with likely missteps at the speeds you may be tempted to attain.  The trail does have loose rocks on it.


The only significant drawback is that Stanley Mountain’s accessibility may subject you to more human company than you might wish.  On the other hand, there is plenty of space on the flattish portion of the hike to get away from people on the path.