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Mount Elbert South Trail, CO

Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4.7 of 5 
no permit
64 5 0
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10 feet
Elevation Gain 3,878 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,940 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.38
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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20  2021-07-11 sneakySASQUATCH
24  2014-06-07 Stoic
10  2013-09-29 hhwolf14
10  2010-09-04 imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 72 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 6 AM
Seasons   Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  5:19am - 7:01pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

State High Point
by imike

   Likely In-Season!
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As the highest point in the state, Mt. Elbert attracts a steady stream of hikers. Interestingly, unlike the even larger daily mass heading up Mt. Whitney, California's highest peak (and the only higher peak in the lower 48 states)most of these hikers seem to be enjoying their outing. I think the difference between the two is that while effectively about as high, the simple fact that most hikers going up Elbert choose to make it a day hike instead of trudging up with loads of camping gear makes all the difference.

There is no permit needed. The route is clear and simple. The trail is steep, but the distance is a very reasonable length for a nice day outing.

SummitPost puts the distance at 11.6 miles, yet our GPS units and the comparisons we made with other people hiking along the route all placed the mileage closer to 13 miles...? There is also a secondary Trailhead that may be used to shorten the hike by a couple miles both ways. Again SummitPost notes this road as a high clearance vehicle route while the sign at the beginning of the road states it to be a 4Wheel Drive road. The 20+ vehicles I noted on our hike day were all four wheel drive; I had the only 2 wheel drive truck up the road. If you choose to take this shorter option it is accessed at the lower trailhead. Simply drive up the dirt track adjacent to the trailhead (B125)to it's upper end.

This route is composed of connecting off of the Continental Divide trail. Hiking from the lower trailhead you will reach the upper trailhead parking area after a couple of miles. There, aftr crossing a small footbridge you will intersect the Mount Elbert trail, y-ing off to your left. From here it climbs steeply up a hogback ridge opening up views of the various lakes lying in the valley below. Working your way through aspens and pine the trail softens around 11,500', opening into a really nice area for camping if you have chosen to make this into a backpacking adventure. Leaving this area at 11,700' you are soon above the tree line and enjoying totally open vistas for the remainder of your ridge hike up to the peak.

This is a steep and demanding trail with obvious elevation issues. Summer hiking here has the typical afternoon storms. Plan well. Be prepared. Enjoy!

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2010-09-05 imike

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Leadville, follow hiway 24 south to State hiway 82, about 14 miles, turning west (right) and continue on 4 miles to Lake County road 24, turning right towards Lakeview Campground. The trailhead is just past and above the campground entrance.
    page created by imike on Sep 05 2010 4:42 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

    end of page marker