Hiking Mount Elbert – Colorado’s Highest Peak

by

Article Categories: Hiking
Article Tags: CO 14er | Colorado | Day Hikes

Mount Elbert is a 14,433 foot mountain in the Sawatch Range of Colorado. Below we will cover each of the trail options, information about camping, roads, trail maps and more to help you get hiking Colorado’s highest peak.

Distance – 9.6 miles round trip (15.4 km)
Height – 14,433 feet (4,399.18 m)
Elevation gain – 4,530 feet (1,380.74 m)
Duration – 7 to 9 hours (book time)
Difficulty – Strenuous
Class: Class 1 Hike
Seasons – Year-round (caution and experience needed in winter – see below)
Trailhead Location – Mount Elbert Trailhead – 10,060 feet (directions below)

Trails

North Mount Elbert Trail: 8.8 Miles Round Trip | 4,530 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 1

This is the most common route up Mount Elbert. It features a very steady gain all the way to the summit, and is a very highly trafficked trail.

There are countless dispersed campsites along the road near the trailhead, as well as established campgrounds. The hike begins in the woods and steadily rises to treeline. It is easy to follow, in great condition, and features a few false summits. hikers reach treeline 2.9 miles into the hike. From here, most of the hike is visible via the ridge, and the views are stunning from here on out.

South Mount Elbert Trail (4WD Vehicle): 8.8 Miles Round Trip | 4,100 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 2

This route begins near Twin Lakes Reservoir, and is frequently trafficked. The dirt road is accessibly for most 4WD vehicles. This is actually the easiest route to the summit, is easy to follow, and features a steady elevation gain to the summit.

Road Conditions: During the winter the 4WD road is not accessible by car.

South Mount Elbert Trail (2WD Vehicle): 12.4 Miles Round Trip | 4,400 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 2

This is the same route as above just with added distance and some road walking. In the winter, the road to the 4WD is often impassable, making it necessary from starting at this trailhead.

Trail Map

The below map shows the standard route, mileage markers, elevation markers, and more for the North Mount Elbert Trail and the South Mount Elbert Trail.

Mount Elbert Trail Map

Mount Elbert Trail Map

Hiking Mount Elbert in Winter

Either route above can be accomplished in winter. Of course, the right gear and preparation is needed to summit Elbert in winter.

During winter the South Mount Elbert 2WD trailhead will be your best starting point as it only ads 1.8 miles on the road. The North Mount Elbert trail is closed in winter and ads

Camping For Mount Elbert

The North Elbert trail features tons of dispersed campsites near the trailhead. This is an awesome location to spend the night.

There are also two National Forest campgrounds; Halfmoon East Campground & Elbert Creek Campground, located on Halfmoon road right next to the trailheads for Mount Massive and Mount Elbert. Elbert creek has RV sites for less than 35 foot RVs and 17 tent sits. You can read more about each campground at the below links:

Halfmoon East Campground

Elbert Creek Campground

Both campgrounds don’t have reservable sites, so they are first come first serve. $7 day fees for parking, $20 per site for overnight camping (2 vehicles, or 1 RV). Any additional vehicle is $6.

For the South Mount Elbert Trail, there are camping spots at the Lakeview Campground: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=12486&actid=29 

Current weather conditions:

Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this region the morning of your hike.

Twin Lakes, CO

This Afternoon
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 2pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 2pm and 3pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 51. West wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tonight
A slight chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms before 9pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 35. West northwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Wednesday
A chance of rain showers after noon. Sunny, with a high near 49. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Wednesday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 33. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 54. West wind 10 to 15 mph.

Thursday Night
Clear, with a low around 36. West wind around 15 mph.

Friday
Sunny, with a high near 52. West wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

Directions & Parking

Directions to North Mount Elbert Trailhead

Directions To South Mount Elbert Trailhead:

Additional Pictures

Views From Mount Elbert

Views From Mount Elbert

Mount Massive As Seen On Mount Elbert

Mount Massive As Seen On Mount Elbert

Views of Twin Lakes From Mount Elbert

Views of Twin Lakes From Mount Elbert

Sunrise on Mount Elbert

Sunrise on Mount Elbert

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the creator of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and sharing his experiences. Max is a published author for various outdoor websites, and digital marketing websites. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about

Subscribe

Useful info for spending more time in beautiful places.

Get Your Beautiful NH Hiking Posters

White Mountain National Forest Poster

White Mountains Map On Amazon

Looking for a Hiking Guide?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.