Mt Belford Oxford
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Mt Belford and Mt Oxford Combo

Cabin ruins at the top of Missouri Gulch on our way to Mt Belford and Mt Oxford

The old cabin just before you reach tree line at 11,300 feet

Steep switchbacks up the lower slopes of Mt Belford

Once you reach tree line the route up Belford comes into view on your left

Looking back down Missouri Gulch from the slopes of Belford

Victoria trundling down the upper slopes of Mt Belford after a long day.

Upper slopes of Belford were a little less steep than the start

The route from the summit of Mt Belford over to Mt Oxford comes into view

The way is obvious from the summit of Belford over to Oxford

Victoria on the summit of Mt Oxford with the summit of Mt Belford behind her in the distance

Victoria on the summit of Oxford crowned by the summit of Belford

Allan descending Mt Oxford on his way back to Mt Belford

On our way back to the summit of Belford, 700 feet to go for a total of 5,900 feet, whew!

Mt. Belford / Mt. Oxford Combo

Scramble: Class 2 – Steep Hiking

Altitude: Belford 14,197 ft, Oxford 14,153 ft

Elevation Gain: Belford 4,560ft, 7.0 miles return, Belford/Oxford 5,900ft, 10.0 miles return

Start Time: 5am to 8am to be on your way down by noon and avoid potential lightning storms, 5am for the combo recommended

Ascent Time: Belford 4 Hours, Belford/Oxford – 1 hour there and 1 hour 10 minutes back to Belford summit

Highlights

This combo was enjoyable but long. Both summits have great views, Note Mt. Harvard to the south. At the Belford/Oxford saddle on our way back we heard like a pack of wild coyotes yelping in the basin below. It was kind of eerie and I think perhaps they had been catching marmots or something. Vicky and I kept an eye on the slope below to see if anything was coming up on us but nothing appeared. I did have my hunting knife and a couple of ski poles available. The mind can conjure up some scenarios with the sounds we heard.

Getting There

Missouri Gulch Trailhead – 9,640ft – Yes restroom

From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road. From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road. On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.

Camping

There are many informal camping spots along the Chaffee County 390 road as well as the usual sleeping in the old vehicle at the Missouri Gulch trailhead to get the earliest start. Some backpack up to the Missouri Gulch basin and setup near the remains of the old log cabin to get a head start.

Route Description

Head up the Missouri Gulch trail as it switchbacks up through the forest. You have to cross the creek coming down the Gulch on a wobbly set of logs. Just before tree line you will see the remains of an old log cabin. Tree line is at 11,300 ft and the Gulch opens up with Belford off in the distance to the left. Continue on the trail to a junction at 11,600 ft. The trail to the left takes you to the switchbacks up Belford’s NW shoulder. The trail to the right continues on to the slopes to access a climb of Missouri mountain or all the way to Elk Pass. Taking the trail to the left takes you up Mt. Belford. The highest point you can see on Belford is not the summit. The summit is actually a bit behind this and further east. The trail will contour around the high point that you can see to the right, from there you head left or east and the summit is only 5-10 minutes away, a mound of light colored rock.

From the summit of Belford looking east and a bit south the route to Oxford is obvious, approx 1.5 miles one way. Head south ¼ mile then east on the trail dropping 700ft to the Belford/Oxford saddle at 13,500 ft then hike up the gentle west slopes of Oxford to the summit. Another 700 ft back to Belford and voila, you have a double.