Hiking Mount Elbert, CO; If you only have a day and you're staying in Denver

The camping in the area is DOPE though, so try to stay

So I began this journey because I was working in Wyoming, but flew into Denver, and then out of Denver, because for some reason... that was the closest airport that was near something that resembled an area where people have dental plans.

So lets get to the basics, on Mount Elbert it pays to be early, and it pays to have four wheel drive and a fair amount of ground clearance, at least if you hike the south trailhead. For the record I hiked the south, or east, or south east trailhead depending on what fucking link or map you look up, but to make it easy, I included where I started in the links. The north trails parking lot is closed and made parking a nightmare. There is a direct south route that is class 2 and looks baller and hope to do an article on it eventually, its called the Black Cloud Trail. For the purposes of this article I will call this the south trail as that what it is called by the CO Park Service, I also recommend getting the map of this from the 14ers series maps sold at REI. I included the link to the location to the south upper trailhead, which if you have something along the lines of a Subaru outback + as far as offroading ability you will be in business. Otherwise, you can start at the lower trailhead off CO County RD 24 which is off CO State Road 86, the lower trailhead will add about four miles round trip.


On my DECENT I tracked on my Garmin 601 5.65 miles, so from the upper trailhead you are looking at ABOUT 11.3 miles of horizontal travel. Boot altitude at trailhead was 10452 feet according to ye old Garmin, so you are looking at ballpark 4000 feet vertical elevation gain from the start.

The trail is a walk up, like chill as can be. That being said if you are a lowlander POS from the east coast such as myself the last 500 feet might be a suckfest, but its worth it. That being said it is altitude, not terrain that will make this trail difficult for you.

I walked this with a 34L Osprey and Altra trailrunners in short short Prana shorts and a shitty Army coyote T-shirt with a 5 liters of water on me (went through 3). It took me 5.5 hours and I am in decent shape with a hint of dad bod. I went up in mid August, it was high 60's at the summit, light wind, beautiful day. I ate three PB&J's, a cliff bar, two cliff energy gels and one cliff chewy pack on the trip.


I recommend you bring something to keep you warm no matter what time of year in case it totally sucks. I always have a light Arteryx in my pack. I started at 530 am, which is late in my book, but ran into no storms. The earlier the better, thunderstorms roll through on summer afternoons every goddam day in the rockies, so don't get fried. No bugs when I went up, honestly it was a perfect beautiful day, and I am sure I was fortunate.


Afterward I went to the Tennessee Pass Cafe in Leadville for a well deserved burger and beer. There's a few places in this town, which seemed pretty cool. I give the place I went a solid recommendation it was good food and beer. Across the street is Leadville outdoors which is like a mini REI and worth the look. 

This was my first 14er, but if you are baggin state high peaks, its a gentle giant, just don't be in terrible shape and you should be fine.

More pictures and video to follow.

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Reading a Map
Happy Tourist
Couple on a Walk
Planning Travels
Open Road