Hike Mount Elbert

Leadville, Colorado

4.5/5
based on 6 reviews

Details

Distance

9 miles

Elevation Gain

4700 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Kyle Frost

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.

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Features

Hiking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

Elbert is cool because it is the highest and is accessible without having to scramble. This trailhead gets packed so if you want something less crowded hike up the east side. With a 4wd car the trails are close to the same distance.

There's nothing wrong with Mt. Elbert per say, but it's not the most thrilling or spectacular 14er out there. The hike isn't terrible, just a long slug up a rocky path after you leave tree line. The view of Twin Lakes is the coolest feature.

Several years ago two friends and I got a wild hair to Hike Mt Elbert, so we jumped in a car and drove over 20 hours to the base. We camp in the parking lots as the campground was closed for the season. Are you starting to get the picture? Not prepared, but we made it to the Summit, after the first Good snow of the year had hit two days earlier. Certainly a hike to remember!

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.

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!

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!

Mt. Elbert is of course a must climb simply due to it's elevation. That said, it's not the most thrilling mountain in the range. The views on the backside are pretty incredible, as most other colorado ranges are visible. Bring bug spray. The mosquitos are really bad in the trees, especially in the Aspen elevations near the beaver ponds. Also, take a breather at a spot nicknamed "Marmot Kingdom". It's a rock outcropping to the south of the trail near 12,000. Hang out long enough and you'll see some curious and funny looking creatures. Finally, there's some great camping on the backside of the beaver pond right below the parking area/trailhead. Make your way around, past all the chewed down trees, and you'll find some very nice secluded spots. Happy hiking!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Hike Mount Massive

Mountain Bike the Colorado Trail near Mount Elbert

Camp at Mt. Elbert Forebay Reservoir

Fly Fish Crystal Lake

Camp at Twin Lakes' White Star Campground

Kayak Twin Lakes