As the second-highest summit in Colorado with stunning views, this mountain attracts a lot of hiking enthusiast year around. It is named Mount Massive because it is comprised of five separate summits exceeding the height of 14,000 feet that make this mountain look absolutely huge in width. Only 12 feet shorter than Colorado’s highest peak, Mount Elbert, this hike features lots of elevation gain, wildflowers, and incredible views on class 2 trails.
Distance –13.6 miles round trip (21.89 km)
Height – 14,421feet (4,395.5 m)
Elevation gain – 4,640 feet (1,414.2 m)
Duration – 7 to 9 hours (book time)
Difficulty – Strenuous
Class: Class 2 Hike
Seasons – Year-round (caution and experience needed in winter – see below)
Trailhead Location – Mount Massive trailhead – 10,070 feet (directions below)
Mount Massive Trail: 13.6 Miles Round Trip | 4,640 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 2
This is the most common route up Mount Massive and begins at the Mount Massive Trailhead Parking. There is overflow parking and parking for Mount Elbert only a couple hundred feet from the trailhead as well. Because this is also a section of the Colorado trail, it is well traveled, well maintained, and pretty easy hiking.
Hikers begin at 10,070 feet at the trailhead, and ascend moderately through some very pretty forested areas on a well traveled path. .9 miles in, hikers should bear left to stay on the Mount Massive Trail, and avoid the Willow Creek Trail.
Hikers will diverge off of the Colorado Trail about 3 miles in, again bearing left. Treeline is reached 3.8 miles into the hike. The views are pretty outstanding of the surrounding peaks, and the lakes below once treeline is reached.
The trail remains well traveled, at a relatively steep grade for quite some time. Hikers will reach the saddle between South Massive and Mount Massive 6.2 miles into the hike. Here hikers will get the first looks West overlooking the Halfmoon Lakes, which are incredibly stunning with the peaks surrounding them. From here, the trail gets a bit more steep with more boulders to climb over. .2 miles after this saddle, hikers will reach a false summit, where the true summit is seen a quick .3 miles away.
Plenty of pika to hear and photograph on this route.
Halfmoon Trail: 6.8 Miles Round Trip | 3,950 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 2
From a difficulty standpoint, this is an easier route up Mount Massive due to the lesser mileage and elevation gain. The road requires high clearance 4wd vehicles in the last .5 miles to the trailhead.
Hikers begin on the Halfmoon Trail and gradually gain elevation for 1.5 miles before reaching the junction of the North Halfmoon Trail. Hikers will bear right to head for another 2 miles ascending rapidly to Mount Massive’s false summit. The views are outstanding. This trail is also a class 2 trail. After turning right, the hiking gets a little more tough over boulder fields, but is still manageable.
Hiking in Winter
Mount Massive is a gorgeous winter hike. As with all CO 14ers, experience and extreme caution is necessary in the winter.
There are 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. There are various sites along this road with tons of camping opportunities. You can read more about each campground at the below links:
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.
Camping Season: Usually, the campgrounds are open the week before memorial day, until early September. The campsites are open outside of these dates, but no fee is required. You will know this via signs at the campgrounds.
The Fishing along the Halfmoon Creek is fantastic. With brook trout and cutthroat trout, this fishery is awesome. The fish have stunning colors to them. This is a catch and release only area.
Current weather conditions:
Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days
Leadville North, CO
Snow showers and blowing snow before 5am, then blowing snow and snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 4. Wind chill values as low as -15. West wind around 35 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.
Blowing snow and snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 10. Wind chill values as low as -21. West northwest wind 30 to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 5. Wind chill values as low as -19. West northwest wind 25 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.
Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 14. Wind chill values as low as -20. West northwest wind 30 to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.
A slight chance of snow showers before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. West northwest wind 30 to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 25. West northwest wind 25 to 35 mph.
Partly cloudy, with a low around 18. West wind 20 to 30 mph.
Directions & Parking
Both trails above are located on Halfmoon Road. The Mount Massive Trailhead can be reached by any 2WD vehicle as the dirt road is pretty well maintained. The last .5 miles to the North Halfmoon Trail however is rough. AWD needed, or walking a bit extra.
Directions to Mount Massive Trailhead:
Directions to North Halfmoon Trailhead: