Hiking Mount Massive – Colorado’s 2nd Highest Peak


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

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)


Trail Map

Mount Massive Trail Map



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.


Camping Information

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:

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.

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

Clear, with a low around 31. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 46. West southwest wind around 10 mph.

Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 30. West wind 10 to 15 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 44. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 30. West wind 10 to 15 mph.

A chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 42. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 32. West wind 10 to 15 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:


Additional Pictures

Hiker Heading Down From Mount Massive Summit

Hiker Heading Down From Mount Massive Summit

Mount Massive Trail Panorama at Sunrise

Mount Massive Trail Panorama at Sunrise

Pano In Saddle Between Mount Massive and South Massive

Pano In Saddle Between Mount Massive and South Massive

Sunrise Near Treeline on Mount Massive Trail

Sunrise Near Treeline on Mount Massive Trail

The Moon Over Mount Massive During Sunrise

The Moon Over Mount Massive During Sunrise

Views Near Mount Massive Summit

Views Near Mount Massive Summit

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor 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. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about

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