Mt. Harvard to Mt. Oxford/Belford and Missouri Mountain

Segment Overview: Oxford, Belford, Missouri
Segment Profile: Oxford, Belford, Missouri

 

 

Nolans Line

From the summit of Harvard, descend directly off of Harvard’s Northwest Ridge, until you reach Pine Creek. Careful with this creek crossing, the south side is particularly difficult to overcome in some places.

Once across the creek, you’ll also cross the Pine Creek Trail. Continue traveling north up an avalanche gully to the summit of Mt. Oxford.

This line is extremely direct, and expect a lot of bushwhacking off of Harvard once below treeline, and a lot of talus hopping accessing Mt. Oxford. Careful route finding will keep this off-trail portion Class 2.

Follow the well-beaten trail to the saddle between Oxford and Belford, and continue to Mt. Belford at the trail junction. Once at Belford, double back again to the trail junction, and descend it to Elkhead Pass.

From Elkhead Pass, keep descending south, then traverse west to the saddle of Iowa Peak and Missouri Mountain. Resist the temptation to take Missouri’s east ridge. Even though it’s the most direct way, the footing is incredibly loose, and it’s generally very slow-going. Perhaps not worth the trouble, even for the Nolans line. The east ridge of Mount Missouri is rated Class 4.

Once at the Iowa Peak/Missouri Mountain saddle, hike Missouri’s South Ridge (Class 2) to its summit.

Slow-lans Alt.

From the summit of Harvard, descend directly off of Harvard’s Northwest Ridge, until you reach Pine Creek. Careful with this creek crossing.

Continue north cross country until you meet up with Pine Creek Trail. Take this trail west until the trail junction with Elkhead Pass. Take the trail north towards Elkhead Pass. Do not continue Southwest towards Silver King Lake.

Summit Elkhead Pass on a good trail. At the trail junction, take the trail east that continues to ascend the Oxford/Belford Saddle. Another trail junction will be found at this saddle – this is a good place to drop packs. Hike east to tag Mt. Oxford, which is only about a mile away. Double-back to the junction, and tag Mt. Belford, which is even closer.

Double back again, and descend once more to Elkhead Pass. Take this trail north, then west at yet another trail junction up Missouri Mountain’s standard route. If you instead take the trail north, it will lead you out of Missouri Gulch and onto Chaffee County 390.

Water

Pine Creek makes a very dependable water source

Water can most likely be source on the south side of Elkhead Pass, not far below the direct Nolans Line.

If taking the Slow-lans alt., copious water is available in the alpine lakes and creeks in Missouri Basin. Water should also be available on the north side of Elkhead Pass in Missouri Gulch, although you may have to descend the trail a small bit to hit a reliable run of the creek.

Camping

Plenty of sheltered campsites can be found on Pine Creek.

High campsites can be found on the south side of Elkhead Pass. A campsite could be made on the north side, but it’s suggested you hike down below treeline. South side would be better.

Bailing/Resupply

After Harvard

Take the Pine Creek Trail east to the highway. You’ll pass the Colorado Trail, and then enter into private property. The landowners ask for a small fee to enter their land from the highway side (around $1). It’s a very long hike out.

After Oxford

Take the trail down to Elkhead Pass, then the trail south down Missouri Gulch, until you reach the trailhead at Chaffee County 390. Hitching east to the highway is most likely doable.

After Belford

Take the standard route north down Mt. Belford and join the trail north down Missouri Gulch, until you reach the trailhead at Chaffee County 390. Hitching east to the highway is most likely doable.

After Missouri

Take the standard route north down Mt. Missouri and join the trail north down Missouri Gulch, until you reach the trailhead at Chaffee County 390. Hitching east to the highway is most likely doable.

Skipping

Take the Slow-lans route up and over Elkhead Pass. Continue to descend north down Missouri Gulch. Options to skip Missouri is also easy – just keep going down the trail towards the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Hike or hitch west on Chaffee County 390 to the start of the standard route of Mt. Huron. (If you plan on skipping Mt. Huron as well, continue north on Sheep Gulch, rather than going all the way past Winfield on Chaffee County 390).

Next: Additional Resources


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