Mt. Elbert (North) Trailhead
  

Location

Range: Sawatch Range
Coordinates: 39.15216, -106.41235
14ers: Mt. Elbert
Elevation: 10,040'
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Road Difficulty

2WD, easy dirt road 1   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD easy dirt road all the way to the TH

Driving Directions

From U.S. 24 just south of Leadville, turn onto Colorado 300. Drive 0.7 mile, turn left onto County Road 11 and continue another 1.2 miles before turning right onto the Halfmoon Creek road. Reset your trip odometer and follow the Halfmoon Creek dirt road for 5 miles to reach the Mt. Elbert trailhead, on the left. There is a large parking area but it fills up early on weekends.

Winter Access

Usually closed just a short distance up from where the road changes to dirt - approx. 5 miles below the TH.

More Info

Parking: Parking for about 30 cars with overflow parking along one side of the road.
Camping: Dispersed and campground camping along the road.
Restrooms? Yes
Fees? No
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: eastcoast14er
Info: Beautifully maintained 5 mile dirt road leading up to the trailhead (Mount Massive trailhead is just 0.5 miles further up the road). Arrived at the trailhead parking lot at 5:15 AM and the car in front of me grabbed the last of the ~30 spots. Ended up parking along the road just 100’ from the parking lot entrance. Plenty of dispersed spots available. Bathrooms available at trailhead.
 
Posted By: GuiGirard
Info: A lot of work went into this road recently, unfortunately it receives high traffic and potholes are starting to show up in numbers. Nothing of an issue even for a 2WD vehicle but caution is advised, and driving fast is not advised (your Taco/Jeep will likely survive unscathed but the road will take a hit). The 15 MPH speed limit signs are posted for a reason. Careful about where to park whenever the Elbert lot is full. Lots of no parking signs along the road (as well as no camping/no fires at places). The FS/county (?) clearly spent a good amount of $ on this (and road upgrades) recently so they might wanna consider recoup some of the costs. Don’t be that fool who is going to get a ticket! The Forest Service was out there working on some fencing along the road near the Half-moon Campground. My first visit to this road in 10 years, and the overcrowding of dispersed camping sites is showing. Please be careful where you drive/camp and leave sites sparkling clean when "checking out". I had to do some cleanup at the dispersed campsite where I stayed, which was left littered. Let’s all work not to turn this area into the next Aspen (ie, only camp at designated places).
 
Posted By: madups1
Info: Arrived around 6:30am. Most of the main spots were taken and didn’t want box anyone in, so just parked on the road. No issues.
 
Posted By: Carrion3
Info: Completed a there and back to the summit of Elbert.
1. Trail Head is open. (Parked at the trail head)
2. Trail was cleared enough and easy to follow. (Yak-trak for sure)
3. At about 11,000 lots of snow. (Was frozen in the early AM)
4. Once you clear the tree line, smooth sailing.
5. Trail is very easy to follow the rest of the way. Expect 3 false summits..
6. When descending back to tree line expect,
lots and lots of post-holes. (up to my waist on the return) the post holes added another 30 to 45 minutes. (Not sure snow shoes will help)

All in all.
The trail head is open
5.2 from the start of the trail head to the summit.
Round trip distance 10.4 miles from the trail head.
4300 feet of elevation gain.
4.5 hours up and 3.5 hours down.

Good Luck
 
Posted By: Carrion3
Info: Completed a there and back to the summit of Elbert.
1. Trail Head is open. (Parked at the trail head)
2. Trail was cleared enough and easy to follow. (Yak-trak for sure)
3. At about 11,000 lots of snow. (Was frozen in the early AM)
4. Once you clear the tree line, smooth sailing.
5. Trail is very easy to follow the rest of the way. Expect 3 false summits..
6. When descending back to tree line expect,
lots and lots of post-holes. (up to my waist on the return) the post holes added another 30 to 45 minutes. (Not sure snow shoes will help)

All in all.
The trail head is open
5.2 from the start of the trail head to the summit.
Round trip distance 10.4 miles from the trail head.
4300 feet of elevation gain.
4.5 hours up and 3.5 hours down.

Good Luck
 
Posted By: Carrion3
Info: Completed a there and back to the summit of Elbert.
1. Trail Head is open. (Parked at the trail head)
2. Trail was cleared enough and easy to follow. (Yak-trak for sure)
3. At about 11,000 lots of snow. (Was frozen in the early AM)
4. Once you clear the tree line, smooth sailing.
5. Trail is very easy to follow the rest of the way. Expect 3 false summits..
6. When descending back to tree line expect,
lots and lots of post-holes. (up to my waist on the return) the post holes added another 30 to 45 minutes. (Not sure snow shoes will help)

All in all.
The trail head is open
5.2 from the start of the trail head to the summit.
Round trip distance 10.4 miles from the trail head.
4300 feet of elevation gain.
4.5 hours up and 3.5 hours down.

Good Luck
 
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Here about a month later, pretty much the same conditions I posted in early November; some sections of well-packed snow (and minor ice underneath) on the road, especially in the last couple of miles. But the road is still open and so this applies to the Mt Elbert (North) TH on the Halfmoon Creek Road as well. The Mt Massive TH parking area is completely dry.
 
Posted By: summit21
Info: TH closed at the west Halfmoon Creek Campground, adding 2 miles RT to the NE Ridge hike.
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Road to TH is closed per USFS order until Oct 31st now for construction.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd955559.pdf
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd955560.pdf
 
Posted By: random-dude
Info: Drive is easy and open to any vehicle. The only reason im posting is to note that the bathrooms were locked at the trailhead and the surrounding campgrounds even though the Forest Service site made no mention of it. So, come prepared with whatever you might need for bathroom needs.
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Road to TH is closed per USFS order until September 30th now for construction.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd946371.pdf
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd946372.pdf
 
Posted By: vinesman
Info: Road to trailhead was closed. Had to start from Halfmoon East Camping. RT was about 13 miles. Took my wife and I who are fairly active hikers and fit about 6 hours to complete.
 
Posted By: pruzicka67
Info: As reported by others, access to the trailhead parking lot is closed a mile or so down the road, and parking is very limited. We arrived at 3:45am and the closest spots were taken, but we were able to park on the side of the road maybe 75 yards down from the barricades. It paid to get there early because when we got back around noon, cars were parked on the side of the road almost a mile down from the barricades. Not mileage I’d want to add to this climb!
 
Posted By: Josh_CO
Info: Had planned to hike Mt. Massive but the Half Moon Creek Road is actually closed at the Half Moon West campground so decided to make our day a bit shorter and went up Mt. Elbert instead. If you are heading for EITHER of the two mountains please track down current road conditions as this closure added over a mile to the "normal" Mt. Elbert route.

The route itself is in good shape with all the recent rain. At the base, parts of the trail are part-stream/part-trail but once up the first few switchbacks it was clear. Lots of trail maintenance in progress so be watchful for volunteers!
 
Posted By: jweber1400
Info: The road to the Elbert NE Ridge trail head is closed due to construction. You can park 1 mile short of the TH, but parking is limited and starts to overflow down the road. No parking is enforced where signs are marked. Other option is the SE Ridge, but that may be farther a drive, it’s a longer hike and may work out to no added benefit. The road work to the Elber TH is done and should hopefully open up soon. I’m told they will move construction barriers back gradually. Honestly, the day we went, the road was great and the parking lot, so not sure why they have not opened it up yet. This impacts Mt Massive East Slope trail head as well.
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Road to TH is closed per USFS order until August 31st now for construction.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd933811.pdf
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd933812.pdf
 
Posted By: jaredemmons
Info: Road to the parking lot is closed. You will have to park about a mile from the trailhead and walk.
 
Posted By: Taco14
Info: Road is closed 1.2 miles below the trailhead, 1.7 miles below Mt. Massive trailhead.
 
Posted By: metal190
Info: The last mile of the road leading to the North Mt Elbert trailhead is closed due to scheduled road work. Luckily there isn’t a lot of elevation covered in this mile, but it also takes that parking lot out of play. If you’re getting dropped off or already planning to hike from one of the camping spots, not a big deal, but if you planned to park at the trailhead, it may add anywhere from a total of 2 miles round trip to 3 or even 4 miles round trip depending on the crowds when you try to climb. Not a huge added effort, but plan accordingly for time and corresponding water and food.
 
Posted By: thebeave7
Info: Confirming the pervious report that the road is in fact still closed and gated off at the campgrounds (1mi from the TH). I talked to the Ranger who informed me it was a construction project gone wrong and would require at least a few more weeks of work (TBD). The road is open to riding/walking to the trailheads, though imagine you could get held up if there on a weekday when work is ongoing.

At the closure there are numerous signs designating where one CAN NOT park and the Forest Service was ticketing people parked illegally. There’s plenty of parking down the road on the East bound side.
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Road to TH is closed per USFS order until July 31st now for construction.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd926214.pdf
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd926215.pdf
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Road to TH is closed until June 30th for road work per USFS

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd916192.pdf
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd916193.pdf
 
Posted By: justiner
Info: Per,
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/psicc/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD913387&fbclid=IwAR1kJUnQogFEwVt1RObaLw6STwZsGC5vN4sUmee0ka0NBN8jddKFdlcHCWM





Halfmoon Road Widening Project Begins

Contact(s): James Fiorelli, Crystal Young

PUEBLO, Colo., May 14, 2021 Work on the road that leads to the Mount Massive and Mount Elbert recreational areas on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands Leadville Ranger District will close NFSR 110, also known as Halfmoon Road, for the next three weeks while crews work to improve parking and public safety by widening the road and parking areas at the trailheads.

Lake County closed the county road which effectively closes the portion of Halfmoon Road managed by the Forest Service. Lake Road and Bridge is moving cut trees and will begin hauling them soon.

We have been ready to work on this project for four years and with increased interest in hiking the trails to these fourteeners, a need to eliminate blind corners and improve the ability for emergency services to support visitors when necessary made this a priority for our district, said Leadville District Ranger Pat Mercer. Crews are trying to get most of the work done before the campgrounds open around Memorial Day, weather permitting.
 
Posted By: RWSchaffer
Info: Halfmoon Creek Road is open to the trailhead. Enough patches of snow remain to remind that it is not yet summer. But the road is mostly dry, and my 2WD hatchback had no difficulty reaching the trailhead. Trailhead parking is also mostly free of snow (pictured).
1 
Posted By: cole-mase
Info: Halfmoon Road was gated not far off of the main highway. It is clear that people have driven around the gate to continue up the road, though. The road was filled pretty consistently with 6-12" of heavy wet snow. A GMC truck and subaru made it to the halfmoon creek campground (mile below TH), but there was evidence of some sliding to get there. We saw a truck with no 4WD that was pretty stuck on the way back, and the responders out of leadville expressed that they were exasperated with getting people towed out of this road. Doable for 4WD vehicles, but i wouldn’t risk it otherwise.
 
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