Mount Elbert

 Northeast Ridge
Difficulty Class 1 
Risk FactorsExposure: Low
Rockfall Potential: Low  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Low  
Start10,040 feet
Summit14,438 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length9.75 miles
Last UpdatedJun 2023
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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.


Taken from the northeast, 1 shows most of the route. Leave the parking area and hike south into the forest - 2. Turn left on the Colorado Trail ( 3), cross a footbridge ( 4) and switchback up a slope ( 5) for approx. 1 mile. At the top of the slope, near 10,600', turn right ( 6) and descend slightly for 0.3mi to reach a trail junction . Turn right and follow the North Mt. Elbert trail - 7.

Hike up through the forest ( 8) for 1.3mi to reach a small clearing at 11,600' - 9. Continue another 0.5mi to finally reach tree line near 11,900'. Leave the trees and follow the great trail as it switchbacks toward the crest of the northeast ridge - 10. Near 12,700', reach the ridge where you can see the large cirque at the head of Box Creek - 11. Continue southwest along the ridge as you approach the steeper terrain - 12. At 13,400', the route becomes steeper as you ascend the upper ridge - 13. Follow the trail right ( 14) and then left back toward the steep ridge crest. This area is the steepest portion of the route and it's difficult for work crews to keep the trail maintained so do your best to stay on the most-defined trail - 15. Above 13,800' the trail gets easier and you'll regain the ridge crest at a flat area , near 13,900' - 16 and 17.

Easy hiking remains but you still can't see the summit. Continue to 14,300' where the summit ridge finally comes into view ( 18) and walk southwest to the top - 19, 20 and 21. On your descent, you'll pass to top of the trail used on Elbert's East Ridge route soon after leaving the summit so be sure to stay on your trail and return via the northeast ridge - 22.


#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22

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