Hike Mt. Elbert via the Black Cloud Trail

Black Cloud Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Hunter Davis

This is the highest peak in Colorado, with insane views and abundant wildlife, it's a must for anyone in the area that wants a semi-strenuous day of hiking.

Black Cloud Trail up to Mt Elbert, near Twin Lakes, Colorado is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on. As you take Hwy 24 South from Leadvill you get to see some of the tallest mountains in Colorado. Then when you turn West onto Hwy 82 you begin to go up into them and through them.

The trailhead of Black Cloud Trail is hard to find. It is on the right side of the road if you are going West on 82. It is about 11 miles West on 82 after turning off 24. If you reach the spot where they close the road for the winter you have gone too far.

The trail is a simple one but very steep. You will travel through beautiful forest until you reach about 12,000 ft of elevation. Once out of the tree line however, the view is magnificent. At the top of the ridge you are at about 13,400 ft and to your right you see Mt Cosgriff. Now that you are on the ridge, and you have conquered those killer switchbacks, you must follow the ridge (not a marked trail, but lots of people travel it so it is not hard to find) until you reach Mt Elbert Peak. This is the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest in the lower 48, so there is a 360 degree view. It's breathtaking.

The starting elevation is about 9,800 ft and at the peak you are 14,433 ft. So this route is harder and steeper than the other routes to the top, but it is a great route. This is not the traditional route. You can't miss this hike, its amazing!

Distance

10 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

4740 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Hiking

Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

Buena Vista KOA

Buena Vista, Colorado

From $125/night

The Cache

Frisco, Colorado

From $145/night

Tucker Mountain Lodge

Frisco, Colorado

From $184/night

The Mill Club

Frisco, Colorado

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Tough But Worth It

This is a TOUGH trail. Be prepared with plenty of food and water because this trail is anything but gradual. Hiking boots are a must for the often rocky trail. I highly recommend doing this in the fall - it was breathtaking with all the aspens in peak color.

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