Mount Massive Trail (via South East) is a 12.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Twin Lakes, CO that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Leave the parking area and begin hiking up the Colorado Trail (also the Mt. Massive Trail) - Hike for 2 miles and cross South Willow Creek at 10,900'. Continue for another mile and cross Willow Creek at 11,000'. Both of these crossings are fairly easy unless the rocks are submerged or icy. Continue northwest up a hill and then north to reach a trail junction at 11,300'. Leave the Colorado Trail by turning left up the Mt. Massive Trail. Hike about 1/4 mile up a hill, through some small clearings, and reach 11,500' where the terrain flattens out and you can finally see portions of Massive ahead "South Massive" (14,132') is in full view to the west. Continue to a flat area at 11,800' where the next leg of the route is obvious. Grassy Point 12,466' is dead ahead and the trail ascends it on it's right (north) side - Photo #6. Zig zag through willows and begin the ascent around Point 12,466'. The hiking here is still Class 1 but it's the steepest part of the route so far. Reach easier ground near 12,400' where the top of the point is off to your left and most of the remaining route is now in view to the west. With 2 miles remaining, the summit is still a long way off. Your next goal is to reach the saddle between "South Massive" and the summit ridge, but 1,500' of vertical gain remains below the saddle. Continue up the excellent trail as you gradually gain ground and eliminate distance. Near 13,000', gain a small hill for an unobstructed view of the remaining hike to the saddle. Keep hauling to reach the 13,900-foot saddle. Less than 500' of vertical gain remaining, but the terrain now gets more difficult. Turn right at the saddle and follow a small trail up toward the summit ridge. The trail stays right of the ridge crest and is often covered with snow in late spring. Continue on trail segments and over talus to reach the summit ridge above 14,200'. The exact line to the ridge depends on snow conditions and/or route finding along the broken trail. This ascent does not exceed Class 2 hiking but you will have to look for lines around some of the rock formations near the upper ridge. Near the ridge, reach a notch and a signed (hopefully) trail junction. This is where the Southwest Slopes trail comes up from the south. Past the junction, stay right of the ridge crest and weave up through the rocks to reach easier terrain on the ridge crest near 14,300. The summit is not far off, but still is not visible. Gain a large false summit where you can finally see the summit - . Drop to the left (west), continue to a saddle just below the true summit , and follow the faint trail over to the top.
Beautiful hike! Long approach around the skirts of the mountain through the woods then a straight ascent to the ridge. Amazing views of all the wilderness to the west. I saw mountain goats! So many wildflowers as well. July 18th.
Favorite climb to this point in my climbing career. Really enjoyed this day. The valley is spectacular with lots of streams, trees, boulders and views. The day was magnificent so I stayed on the summit by myself for 45 minutes. Quite an adventure.
one of my very favorite 14ers, completed 8/31/15. started at 430a and finished at 11a, included 15-30min stop at the summit.
This is a long trail,before it even starts going up. Hiked it only for awhile.
Great hike, awesome views! I hiked up one side then continued on along the ridgeline in a loup over a few other mountains and came down on the back side of Massive where there's several ponds and meadows. There's a trail I found once you get to the meadow/pond area. Unless you're really feeling your oats and are in really good shape I wouldn't do what I did with a full pack. I started in the late afternoon/evening then hiked to the treeline for camp. Basically had too as it was pooring rain and getting dark by then. Next morning was amazing, great sunrise, crisp air, on and on. I would recommend camping up there then continuing your hike. Plenty of water sources along the way so you can start with some water and refill throughout your hike if you time it out right.
I've hiked this mountain several times, you can easily do it up and back in a half day assuming you're in good shape. If you haven't done this mountain, put it at the top of your list! It's a good one.
My first 14er and I must say it was an amazing feeling reaching the summit. Spectacular views were well worth the long hike. We left at 6am and were back by 6pm. Like most people mention, start early because you don't want to be stuck above the saddle when the early afternoon storms come. If they do hit get below the treeline asap. On the other hand if you summit and don't see a cloud in the sky you can stay up longer. Take LOTs of water, LOTS of food, and don't worry if you get tired often. Take breaks. Getting to the tree line is easy but once the air gets thin, you slow down considerably so take short breaks often. And in case your curious or coming from the Colorado trail, there are two streams to filter water. One at apprx 2 miles and the other at appx 3 miles out. The second is definitely the larger/better.
Ps. Towards the top there is just a little bit of scrambling. Nothing crazy but you do have to some very light "climbing". It's fun as hell.
A very long round trip day. It took 9 hours including lunch at the summit. Beautiful views.
The Mount Massive trail has many beautiful moments. It's not an easy trail as it doesn't switch back up to over 14,400 feet. It goes straight up in the last three miles. So be in good shape. There is a bit of rock climbing at the top. The views from the "Saddle" are breath taking as they are at the summit. Also the trail at the top is subject to afternoon thunder storms. So be up and on your way down by noon. Bring plenty of water...I suggest at least three liters of water and some high protean energy snacks. If you start to wheeze on the way up, turn around and get down as soon as you can. This can be caused by pulmonary edema which can be fatal. Any time you go quickly up above 14,000 feet this is a possibility. Some people a lot more susceptible than others.
This is a beautiful hike. It is also a steep, long climb with loose footing in many spots but well worth the effort.