Planning on a Grays and Torrey’s summit, are ya? At 14,270 and 14,267 respectfully, Grays and Torreys is a great day hike for anyone hoping to bag two Colorado 14ers in one day! Fun fact: Grays is the highest peak on the Continental Divide. It’s a beautiful hike and the views are obviously stunning from the top. Only an hour outside of Denver, Grays and Torreys is an extremely popular climb for trekkers. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about planning your hike up Grays and Torreys. For a step-by-step Guide, check out Maddy’s perspective, here.
Table of Contents
Quick Guide to Grays and Torreys
Hiking a Colorado 14er is a big thing and some preparation is definitely called for. For those that don’t know, the term “14er” references any mountain that is higher than 14,000′. There are a whopping 58 14ers in Colorado! If you are planning your first 14er, read about our 1st ascent to Mt Elbert here. Trekkers of all skill levels, you can drive to the top of 14er Mt Evans), will find peaks ranging from relatively easy to extremely difficult. Some of Colorado’s most popular 14ers are Mt Elbert, Pikes Peak and Long’s Peak.
Grays & Torreys Stats:
|Elevation (feet)||14,270 & 14,267|
|Distance||9.1 miles RT|
|Popular Routes||Stevens Gulch Trailhead
|YDS Class*||Class 1, Class II (Torreys)|
|Route Type||Lollipop Loop|
|Best Time To Climb||Jun – Sep|
The Yosemite Decimal System ( YDS) is a three-part system used for rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs, primarily used by mountaineers in the United States and Canada. Grays Summit is a Class I, Torreys is a Class II.
A YDS Class I is – A low risk hike. Chance of injury for a Class 1 hike extremely unlikely. You walk an established trail.
A YDS Class II is – A low risk hike. Mayrequire route finding skills and use of hands. Scramble over rocks or trees.
Grays & Torreys is located near Idaho Springs, in Bakersville, CO. About 1 hour West from Denver, off I70. The closest town is Idaho Springs, where you can stock up on food at the local Safeway, or even stay in a hotel for a good night’s sleep. A quick Google Maps search will show you exactly where Mt Elbert is located.
Grays and Torreys Trail
From the Grays Peak Trailhead (Stevens Gulch Trailhead), cross a well-maintained bridge and travel southwest, already near treeline at 11,259. The trail meanders along the south slopes of Kelso Mountain to Kelso Junction 1.85 miles in. The small trail on the right leads to Kelso Ridge and Torreys Peak. Continue straight on the main trail heading west of the ridge until reaching the upper slopes.
The trail reaches the Torreys Peak South Slope junction 2.8 miles in at 13,270. Heading right leads to the saddle between Grays and Torreys Peak. When hiking both peaks in one day, most travel in a clockwise direction, hiking up Grays Peak first. To do so, turn left at the junction to continue to Grays Peak up talus slopes. The trail traverses across the north slope and begins a series of switchbacks at 13,840. The trail turns southeast just before the final pitch to the summit (14,270), 3.75 miles from the trailhead.
From the summit of Grays Peak, Torreys Peak is less than a mile away. Descend the North Ridge of Grays toward Torreys Peak. Follow the trail through tight switchbacks for .40 miles to the trail junction with the Torreys Peak Trail. The saddle between Grays and Torreys is a short distance ahead. Follow the Torreys Peak Trail along the south slope to the summit. Torreys Peak lies at 14,267 and is 4.6 miles in when doing both peaks.
To return to the trailhead, descend to the Grays-Torreys saddle again, traverse across the North Slopes of Grays to join the Grays Peak Trail. Descend the Grays Peak Trail to the trailhead.
Road Conditions: A 4WD or AWD is recommended, the road is bumpy with tons of ruts. There are two parking lots, one at the trailhead and one at the bottom. Either camp overnight at the trailhead or arrive super early (4-4:30 am) to ensure a spot at the top lot as the bottom lot adds an additional 6 miles to your trek. Parking is not allowed along the road as of 6/21 … tickets are issued daily to the tune of $80!
What Time to Start Hiking Grays and Torreys
Afternoon thunderstorms are very common when hiking Colorado 14ers and Grays & Torreys is no exception. Storms can be extremely dangerous for summiteers who fail to get off the peak prior to storms hitting, as this trail is fully exposed and there is no possibility for escape.
For this reason, most hikers start their climbs in the early morning in order to reach the summit by 11 am, the latest time hikers should target, as noon is typically the time you want to be making your descent. It took us slightly longer than 3 hours to reach the summit. If you plan on remaining on the peak for longer than a few minutes, you will want to plan accordingly. Parking, also can become an issue. We arrived at the upper lot the night before and snagged the best camping spot, allowing us to sleep in a bit (we started our hike around 6:30).
Many hikers set out to catch the sun rising on the summit. In this case, you will want to start your ascent no later than 3:30 am. This will have you at the summit between 5:30 & 6, depending on your pace. Be sure to check sunrise times as they vary greatly between the months of June – Sept.
What to Wear to Hike a Colorado 14er
Colorado weather is as unpredictable as you can imagine. Typically, mornings and evenings are cool and afternoons are warm. Layers are the answer to any question re: clothing for Colorado adventures. Grays and Torreys in late August was positively freezing. Temps were at their highest,, 42 degrees and below freezing at the summit, in fact it snowed on us twice! Here are our suggestions for a safe and comfortable hike.
- Winter Hat/Baseball Hat: A warm hat for the chilly am and a baseball hat for the inevitable Colorado sun.
- Sunglasses: Don’t forget these!
- Inner layer
- Insulating layer
- Waterproof layer
- Good Shoes
- Hiking Socks
What To Pack for Grays and Torreys
Packing List And What To Bring for Grays and Torreys
- Hydration Pack: To be safe, you will want a 3.0L hydration pack.
- Extra set of socks: (we changed socks at the summit)
- Hiking stick: Not necessary, but helpful if you have knee issues. You can typically find sticks left at the TH by other hikers.
- Trekking Poles: Not necessary, but helpful. Best Priced Poles out there rn.
- Headlamp: For climbing in the dark and camping at night. Adults/Kids
- Snacks: You will want to pack snacks! Beef Jerky, Trail Mix, Dried Fruit, etc.
- First aid: I always have these items with me
- Eyedrops: In case sand or debris get into your eyes
- Medication for headaches
- Insect repellent
- Lip Balm
If you are camping overnight, you may also need:
- Shelter: Check our favorites. Family Tent/Bivy Sack/Hammock
- Cooler: Only the best, to keep your pre and post hike food cold! We splurged on our cooler, nothing else. 🙂
- Sleeping bag: Make sure your sleeping bag is sufficiently insulated for cool Colorado nights. 0 degrees at least!
- Ax: An ax for cutting firewood, because it is rare to have a fire ban in the highest elevations! Find one at Walmart.
- Lantern: Camp lanterns are useful and fun …
Where to Camp for Grays and Torreys
The absolute best camping I’ve ever done before a 14er is at the top lot at the trailhead. It is advisable to utilize this camping area since you have to wake early in the am to get started on your adventure.
Grays and Torreys is an awesome location to spend the night. There is a creek that babbles and tree cover for privacy and the night sky is mindblowing!
Further Questions …
Hiking Colorado 14ers is a blast. The beauty is incomparable! If you have any further questions that are left unanswered, please don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments below. We respond to every comment every time!
Check out the video below!!