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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Mount Massive via Halfmoon Lakes, CO

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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > South Central
4 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,538 feet
Elevation Gain 3,904 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,032 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4+ hours
Kokopelli Seeds 26.41
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
25  2017-07-17 rvcarter
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Early
Seasons   Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  5:49am - 6:11pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Harder but Nicer
by imike

Likely In-Season!
This route to the third highest peak in the lower 48 states takes the direct approach, and provides the shortest mileage route to the peak. From the lower trailhead to Mount Massive you continue driving up a rough, high clearance vehicle road for another 2+ miles to the well developed trailhead for Halfmoon Lakes. At this point you need to fill out a free permit registration to access the Wilderness Area. The hike starts out on the Halfmoon Lakes trail for about 1.5 miles, where you will then turn right on to the signed trial ascending to Mt. Massive. At this point the more moderate grade gives over to climbing. This short mileage approach is accomplished by simply having a route that runs overly steeply up the side of the mountain. Follow this route until you intersect the main trail up on the ridge, proceeding then on to the peak.

You may want to consider descending on the main trail, creating a loop hike of longer mileages but much gentler walking.

Mt. Massive is composed of a ridge system containing a number of sub peaks over 14,000'...and was once held out to be the better choice for Colorado's highest mountain. There were attempts to pile rocks up to augment the total height, hoping to beat out Mt. Elbert, but that up/down process finally ended with the concession that Mt. Elbert's 14,440' was the top of the state.

This is not an easy hike, but for any well conditioned hiker it is very doable. To avoid the overly steep class 2 climbing, simply hike to the peak using the lower trailhead. Both routes are very popular.

This hike is subject to the usual issues related to high elevations, and summer thunderstorms. Start early and enjoy the efforts.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-09-06 imike
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Mount Massive via Halfmoon Lakes
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Not many people try to climb Mount Massive from what calls the “Southwest Slopes Route”. It starts from the North Halfmoon Lakes Trailhead on what is marked on my National Geographic Map (Aspen Independence Pass, #127) as the North Halfmoon Trail #1485. Following #1485 northwest 2.7 miles will lead you to the North Halfmoon Lakes.
    About 1.6 miles in on #1485, the trail leading to Mount Massive takes off to the right and goes up, up, up a steep, sometimes boulder strewn slope with many, many switchbacks to the top. The point of departure is at a sign shown in my photos. However, the sign merely says “Mount Massive Trail 1451”, with no mention of trail #1485 or indication which route leads where. Luckily, I had a GPS route I had downloaded from which indicated that I should turn right and up the slope. This point is the only question mark over the entire trip, and could cause some hikers without a map or GPS some confusion.
    I did some exploring on the internet and found the Forest Service Environmental Assessment (FONSI issued May 7, 2003) which contains an evaluation of various Mount Massive climbing activities and their impacts. The significant increase in hiker interest to bag 14ers had caused several social trails to develop with consequent environmental impacts such as increased erosion. Part of the preferred action to address these impacts was to “stabilize the climbing routes from the North Halfmoon Lakes Trail to the Summit of Mount Massive from the south side of the mountain”. So, they built a single ridgeline route which blocked all other routes to and from the top. That route is referred to by the Forest Service in the EA as Forest Development Trail #1451, and sometimes as the North Halfmoon West Route.
    On the day I did this hike, I mistakenly stayed on #1485 toward the lakes and within a hundred yards or so, came to an area that had been subjected to a snow avalanche which obliterated the trail. My GPS by that time told me that I was off the trail to the top, so I bushwhacked a bit to intersect the trail up. I hope the pictures I posted and the information presented here will help others avoid this same mistake. It’s an easy mistake to make; three others behind me a few hundred yards did the same thing.
    This may the longest, continuous steep climb I’ve done in Colorado. Here is the heartbreaking part. When I got to the saddle where this route joins with the standard East Route # 1487, about a half mile from the peak (and 170 feet below the summit), the thunder over on Mount Elbert to the south kicked up. As I recovered with some food, the thunder got worse and clouds got blacker. I could see it raining there. The last half mile looked to be some class 3, and I didn’t want to get caught out there, so I pulled the plug and headed down the East Route. I figured to live and hike another day, but didn’t want to tackle the severe down slope on the way I came up. At that point, I was just anxious to get below the tree line. I scooted down to about 13,000 feet and thought I had a few minutes to eat something (it was then approaching 2:00 p.m.). After a few bites, here came the hail. After a few minutes of hail came sleet, then snow, then just rain. I didn’t even have time to get my pack covered, but did manage to get my raincoat on. I was totally drenched within minutes. Luckily the lightning held off till I got to the tree line. I didn’t get a chance to finish my lunch till about 4:00 p.m.
    So, I completed the loop up from North Halfmoon Trailhead and down to the Mount Massive Trailhead (at the point the Colorado Trail crosses CR 110), and included the road between the THs to boot. I won’t soon forget this day. My wife asked me the next day if I was going to try another 14er. I told her “I’m done for this year”.

    Permit $$
    Information is listed below

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Leadville, follow 24 south to Rd 300, turning right and following for a bit over a mile, then turning left on Rd 11 (Halfmoon Lake Rd). Follow this road to the lower Mt Massive trailhead (past Halfmoon Lake/ Emerald Lake campgrounds)... then, proceed on up the posted high clearance vehicle road another 2+ miles to the well marked trailhead area for Halfmoon Lakes trail. Sign up for the free permit at the trailhead.
    page created by imike on Sep 06 2010 6:51 am
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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