Hike Colorado's tallest 14er, and the 2nd tallest peak (14,433 feet) in the lower 48.9 miles round trip. 4700 ft of elevation gain.

Start your trip at the North Elbert Creek trailhead, reached by taking Colorado 300 just south of Leadville, and then a left on County road 11 and a right on Halfmoon Creek road. The dirt road to the trailhead is well traveled.

The trail begins from the parking lot and winds upwards past 2 clearly marked junctions, first left, then right. After the short downhill just before the second junction, the trail turns up the mountain and begins climbing out of the treeline. You'll hit treeline just below 12,000ft, with a clear view of the ridge the trail will follow the rest of the way up. NOTE: the "top" that you see from this angle is not the actual summit, although the peak isn't too far above that.

After you crest the first section of the ridge, you'll be treated with views of the cirque towards your left and a short "flatter" section. This is obviously followed with a quite steep section that will take you up to 14,000 ft. The remaining route will take you to the high point you've been staring at, and then past that along the summit ridge up to the top at 14,433 ft.

Congrats! You've reached top of the the 2nd tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Enjoy sublime views of the Sawatch range and Leadville far below. Consider bringing a good map so you can try and pick out the other 14ers you can see from the top!

You can also hike Elbert via the Black Cloud Trail in Buena Vista.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water
  • A jacket (weather can change quickly)
  • Be prepared to call off your summit attempt if weather turns poor
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RT Distance 9 Miles
Elevation Gain 4700 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Death march but well worth it!

This was a death march for me but I believe it was only because I wasn't acclimatized properly before doing it. I loved the old mining huts and switchbacks through beautiful landscapes.

A Classic 14er

This peak is a must-do for Coloradans. The ascent is enjoyable and the summit is a fun and beautiful place to relax and eat lunch!

about 2 years ago

A Great First 14er

The trail itself isn't particularly difficult, but it gives you a great taste of what it's like to hike at higher elevations. It was my first 14er and I had a blast. I started feeling the elevation in the last 1,000 feet and my pace slowed considerably. Definitely keep an eye on the weather!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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