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

Mount Elbert NE Ridge - Standard Route, CO

Guide 17 Triplogs Mine 0 1 Topic
4.8 of 5 
no permit
210 17 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,040 feet
Elevation Gain 4,393 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 32.5
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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3  2020-08-31 ShatteredArm
11  2018-09-17 adv_trev
25  2018-09-08 DixieFlyer
11  2018-07-20 Pivo
15  2016-07-15 LindaAnn
3  2016-07-11 FOTG
22  2015-07-30 DallinW
7  2015-06-27 toddak
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Author Jim_H
author avatar Guides 63
Routes 67
Photos 8,818
Trips 1,980 map ( 11,982 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Marana, AZ
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Preferred Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Summer to Autumn
Sun  5:00am - 7:24pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
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Flora Nearby
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Climb to the top of the Rockies, no beer on tap
by Jim_H

Likely In-Season!
This hike will take you from the Upper Arkansas River Valley to the summit of one of the country's highest mountain peaks. Despite being the highest mountain in the lower 48 states after Mount Whitney, 14,433' Mount Elbert is one of the easiest 14ers to hike, and is very popular as a result. It also tends to be one of the first 14ers that people will ascend. The trail is well constructed and very easy to follow, even in the tundra.

The trail begins at a large dirt parking lot surrounded by lodgepole pine. It climbs gently at first, crossing a small stream in the first 1000 feet of trail. About a quarter mile into the hike, the trail comes to a T with the Colorado & Continental Divide Trails, which run right through here and are a part of the Elbert Trail. Take a left at this intersection. A little over 1 mile from the trailhead you then will encounter a fork in the trail. The left trail which continues to descend is the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail turning back off of the Elbert trail; you don't want that trail for this hike. The fork to the right is the trail that will lead you to the summit of Mount Elbert.

The trail climbs steeply from this point. Forest composition switches from lodgepole pine to englemann spruce as you approach treeline. Soon you are in a meadow that will fool you into thinking you are at treeline, but then it's back into the trees. Finally, you come to the true treeline and you are greeted with some high alpine tundra.

The trail levels out a bit, but it's still steep for the altitude. You'll spend the next 3 miles hiking up to the summit. Leave early during the monsoon season, as you are pretty exposed for the duration of this hike, and we all know about lighting. What begins at a moderate grade soon becomes very steep. You'll pass the false summit after nearly 2.5 miles in the tundra and gain sight of the true summit. The last stretch of trail is a gentle hike to the summit. Once on top you can enjoy the views of the Rocky Mountains and the high elevation tundra. Return the way you came, taking note that two trails leave from the east ridge. Don't take the one that heads towards the Twin Lakes.

Remember, if you have trouble with Mount Humphrey you will probably be much worse off on this hike. Plenty of people will see the round trip distance and assume it's less than Humphrey and that it will therefore be a faster hike. Its not, it's much longer and harder due to the altitude; plus you gain 4700' on this hike. Watch the skies and try to be off the summit by noon.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-08-11 Jim_H
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Denver, Colorado proceed west on interstate highway 70 (I-70). Drive through the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel and continue for about 16 miles to exit # 195 for CO 91. Take route 91 south and merge with US 24 south before heading through Leadville. Continue south on US 24 to CO 300, which will be on the right or west side of the highway (there is a gas station convenience store just north of this junction). Drive over the abandoned railroad tracks, proceed past the trailer park, cross the Arkansas River and after 3/4 of a mile from US 24 you will come to the first paved intersection on your left. This is county road 11, turn left onto it. Drive south on 11 to the next intersection which is just before the asphalt turns to dirt (the road that continues straight as dirt after the pavement ends is county road 11A and you don't want it). Turn right onto the new road which is still county route 11. Route 11 will now be dirt, and it will drive along a creek before heading into a valley. After about 2 miles you will cross a stream. There will be a USGS stream gauging station on the left just before this crossing. Keep on driving, its several more miles of graded dirt road until the well marked and large trailhead parking area is on the left, or south side of the road. There is plenty of developed and dispersed camping along this stretch of road in the San Isabel National Forest.
    page created by Jim_H on Aug 11 2008 12:43 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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