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Mount Elbert via the Southeast Ridge Trailhead (Winter Route)

Buena Vista, Colorado



13.48 miles

Elevation Gain

4885 ft

Route Type



Added by Drew Thompson

Classic Route to the Summit of Colorado's highest peak

Great for All Seasons this is the Recommended Winter Route with minimal Avalanche Danger. 

Known as the South Mount Elbert trail, the East Ridge trail or a combo of both, this trail is truly beautiful and remote.

DIRECTIONS: To reach the trailhead if coming south take Route 24 until you are south of Leadville. You will take the right onto Road 10 which will lead you to Forest Road 24. (You will pass the Elbert Dam and reach a small parking area/trailhead. If driving north take the left at Independence Pass out 82 at Twin Lakes. You will then turn right onto Forest Road 24 which will lead you to the same small parking area/trailhead. It is recommended that all begin their hike here especially in the winter. In the summer depending on conditions 4x4 trucks may be able to continue up a rough road to shave off approx. 1 mile.

Begin your hike, follow the 4x4 road to the true "start" of the Mt. Elbert hike. The hike has three main sections. The first keeps you in an aspen forest that changes to lodgepole pine and eventually hits treeline until a grassy open ridge with wide views eventually connects to the main East Ridge. The trail in its entirety is well marked. Once above treeline follow the trail to the well-trodded ridge which takes you to the scree slopes which will feel never-ending. After many switchbacks, plenty of breaks, and amazing views all the way, you will reach the summit of Mount Elbert. Be prepared for an approx. 9-10 hour day, approx.10-12 in the winter for fit hikers.

Note: In the winter it is recommended to have both snowshoes and micro spikes. Crampons and ice axe are unnecessary for this hike.

**Distance may vary due to a variety of variations of this trail and trail work which have altered the direction and distance in some areas. It is recommended to use GPS in addition to the Outbound resources.

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