Start time: 6:00 am
Summit: 10:15 am
Descent: 11:00 am
Ending time: 2:00 pm
Total time: 8 hours (including stops and 30 minutes of watching a goat)
Massive is one steep mountain.
We headed out Friday after work around 7:30 and ended up driving to the TH in the dark. For those wondering about vehicles on the 4WD road….We were able to take our 2004 Subaru Forester all the way to the top with absolutely no problems. We even saw a Ford Focus at the top too! (I wouldn't recommend doing that though) I honestly don't know how they got up because there are parts where you would need the 4wd. There is also a good amount of parking space and several pull offs along the way.
Our intentions were to start hiking by 4:30 with headlamps…But nothing on this trip was really going as planned and we ended up sleeping through our alarm. Craig, you totally should have banged on our windows. But, maybe it would have given me a heart attack too thinking it was a bear. '' Oh well. So we got a late start at 6 am (maybe not that late to some of you).
The trail through the forest is very easy and flat. You don't really start gaining elevation until you take that right turn at the junction.
Now the fun begins. '' Lots of rocks and lots of steepness. There are many who would say that you pass through a rock field…. But to me a field means flat…. It was by no means a rock field at all. More like a ton of rock on the side of a hill.
Looking up at the steep trail
rock hill on the descent
After you pass through this section you will enter back onto dirt trail. Even though this entire section is steep, the best part is that there are many switchbacks.
steep trail on the descent
As a side note, there are tons of pika's and marmot's and you will hear them chirping at you the whole hike. We even saw a white marmot too! I believe they are pretty rare.
a hungry marmot friend
Elbert & La Plata
Continue hiking up to the ridge and you have pretty much conquered the hardest part of the hike. You can't see the peak of Massive until you pass over the ridge. Once you are over the ridge, you probably have about 30-40 minutes left (for a moderate paced hiker) until you reach the summit. From this point on, you are doing some rock scrambling (class 1?) It really is not bad at all…. especially because you are really not gaining that much elevation while crossing this section. It was actually my favorite part of the hike.
You will see 2 summits at the top. Most people we hiked with that day really weren't sure which peak was the true summit. There were even some hikers that were content with the first one and returned back down. I personally think that the two peaks are both very close in elevation and there was much debate on whether to continue to the other peak or not. We almost didn't go ourselves. Our camera was about to die and we actually took most of our "summit" pictures on the false summit.
Looking towards The Elks near Aspen
me on the false summit
After that we decided to go for it and I am so glad we did. It looked far away but in reality it only took us about 5 minutes to get to the other peak. I recommend going all the way. We snapped one true summit shot and then headed back for our descent.
Looking towards the true summit
On the "true" summit
Elbert & La Plata
On the way down we saw a good sized mountain goat on the side of a very steep cliff. We even got to watch him traverse across to the hiking path where he was about 10 feet from me! It was way cool. I bet we probably wasted about 30 minutes just taking pictures and videos of this goat.
Goat on steep terrain
For how steep Massive was, I thought the descent was harder than the hike up. I didn't remember the rock hill being so long either. The rocks just seemed to never end. I'm going to have rock nightmares!
stormy weather above Oklahoma Peak on the desent
On the trail
We finally made it back down to the trailhead by 2 pm, packed up and headed out for some awesome burgers in Leadville.
Overall, Massive was a steep mountain, but not as steep as I was expecting. There is a defined trail all the way to the top and the rock scrambling above the ridge was much easier than I anticipated. The views of Elbert and La Plata were beautiful and you can even see the Elks near Aspen on a clear day.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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