Colorado fourteeners: Mount Antero

 

Mount Antero

Elevation: 14,276 feet

Range: Sawatch

Mount Antero, named after a Ute Indian chief, is one of the dramatic peaks seen from U.S. 285 as it follows the Arkansas River Valley from Buena Vista to Salida. It is a popular mountain for peak-baggers, ATV enthusiasts and treasure hunters.

On a ridge half a mile to the south of the summit is a pocket of rock rich in gems such as aquamarine, quartz, fluorite and topaz. At one time, an effort was made to determine if this area was worth mining. Fortunately, it was not, so we are left with a road that provides access to an elevation of 13,750 feet.

While it does require a pretty good four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach this point, the road gives hikers the option of making this trek as hard as they want it to be. The road also makes hiking very easy until the final 300 vertical feet, and even then the route stays quite tame. While the vehicle traffic can take away from the hiking experience, it easily can be avoided by going early in the season.

You'll love the way the road approaches the summit, circling the peak while offering panoramic views as you ascend through aspen groves, cross beautiful Baldwin Creek and hike a series of switchbacks to reach the southern ridge before the final push to the top. The mineral content of the area adds dramatic oranges and reds to the surrounding peaks, making the vistas splendid year-round.

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