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 – 14,421 feet (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 the saddle between Mount Massive and South Massive. Here hikers turn left towards the summit. The views are outstanding. This trail is also a class 2 trail.
East Ridge Route (Common Winter Route): 14.6 Miles Round Trip | 4,900 Feet Of Elevation Gain | Class 2
This route starts at the Leadville Fish Hatchery which can be accessed year round. The route is relatively simple, but can be pretty difficult to follow in winter as the trail disappears a few miles in. Route finding is necessary, and only experience hikers should attempt in winter.
Hiking in Winter
Mount Massive is a gorgeous winter hike. As with all CO 14ers, experience and extreme caution is necessary in the winter. The most common route up to the summit in winter is the east approach from the fish hatchery known as the East Ridge route.
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 areas of blowing snow. Cloudy, with a high near 7. Wind chill values as low as -21. West wind 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Snow showers and blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -4. Wind chill values as low as -27. West wind 15 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Snow showers and blowing snow before 8am, then blowing snow and snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 4. Wind chill values as low as -33. West northwest wind around 30 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Blowing snow and snow showers likely before 8pm, then snow showers likely and areas of blowing snow between 8pm and 10pm, then blowing snow and snow showers likely between 10pm and 11pm, then snow showers and blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 1. Wind chill values as low as -25. West wind 25 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow showers and blowing snow before 11am, then blowing snow and snow showers likely between 11am and 5pm, then a chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 11. West wind 25 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow before 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9. West wind 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 23. West northwest wind 15 to 20 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:
Directions To Leadville Fish Hatchery:
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about