Explore After IFT - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

After IFT Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Got to the trailhead just before 7pm Thurs night with my buddy and hiked up to treeline. Used headlamps until we found a good spot to camp, and hit the hay by 10pm. We got up later than we had planned around 5:45am, and made our way to the summit. This was my 10th 14er, and the mileage was no joke. The hike from this route seemingly goes on forever after you get above treeline. Enjoy the walk thru the woods early on, because the hike doesn't really start till 11,800. Stay to the left as you ascend the ridge to avoid going too low, and making for a more difficult climb. Amazing views from the summit. Made it back down to camp around noon, and then made the endless descent thru the woods to the car. All in all I imagine this route was more scenic than others, but much, much, longer. We were glad we camped the night before, as this would have been a lot of mileage for a top to bottom trip.

Due to the road closure we went up Avalanche, down Denny Creek, then slogged it back to Avalanche on the road. The weather could not have been better! Great views and a challenging climb.

I’ve seen a lot of reports touting Denny Creek, but I wasn’t impressed. If I was to do Yale again, I’d stick with Avalanche. It’s slightly longer but I found it far more enjoyable.

This was my first 14er and I did it on 8/17 with my husband. Weather was perfect for us and we made sure to leave the summit by 11:00 to be safe in case of afternoon thunderstorms. We are reasonably fit middle aged people and this was very difficult for us but we finished it! The altitude was hard for my husband but I don't think it bothered me much. My heart and lungs were pounding from all the climbing (it gets hard above the tree line) so I couldn't tell if it was my fitness level or the altitude! We weren't prepared for all the rocks you have to maneuver. It was great to reach the summit and I'm glad I didn't know at the time how hard the descent would be. I recommend the hike but definitely know that it is difficult for those without experience. I recommend 2-3 liters of water. We each brought 3L and used all ours, probably because it took us quite a bit of time.

Left at 7am from Halfmoon trailhead aiming at ascent via SE ridge as described in Roach book. Did not find the side trail at 10,600’ mentioned in other posts but ascent through the sparse pine forest was straightforward. Reached tree line at 11,800’, great views from there, ridge line easy to follow. Did not meet a single hiker until rejoining the main trail below the summit.

SE ridge is an awesome alternative for those who like hiking off the beaten path. The ascent requires more effort due to the lack of trail and some up and down along the ridge (about 1000’ extra vertical in all). There is no water along this route so bring plenty.

This hike certainly lives up to all the reviews I read before taking it on today (8/18/18). Elbert is a beast! I had read about the first false summit and thought I was mentally prepared since it wouldn’t be a surprise for me. Not the case. It is a Soul Crusher which I have officially named it. Our day started early at 3:45 AM. Plenty of parking at that time and you can easily reach the tree line to watch the sunrise. As we approached Soul Crusher the skies above Mt Elbert opened up with snow, hail, sleet and +30 mph winds for at least a couple of hours. Thankfully there was no lightning and my crazy stubborn self marched on. I summited by 9:30 (I am super slow-mo) amidst the blizzard conditions. The view atop the peak was non-existent but nonetheless the beast was conquered! Today would’ve been the perfect day to start ascending around 10:00 AM because the sun came out and the skies cleared as soon as the storm blew through. Who knew? Remember, this is the Colorado Rocky Mountains....be prepared for anything!

I did this hike on August 15 and the climate was absolutely wonderful. The reviews helped me make the decision to go on this hike and I really recommend taking a jacket for the cold and to travel light. It helped me a lot to drink Emergen-C before and after the hike to hydrate my body. I recommend doing that. It was my first 14ner and it was excellent!

hiking
2 days ago

Beautiful views, but the trails needs work. Coming down after the summit is really difficult and would be easier with smaller steps. Avoid summitting and leaving same day - the trails will not be favourable conditions.

Hands down one of the most fun climbs up a 14er! Definitely more climbing than hiking!

Flew in from Vegas just to complete this Mountian. Me and my fiance have done many high elevation hikes, Boundary Peak (Nevada high point), Mt. Whitney, Charleston Peak, and many many more. I have never got elevation sickness. On Saturday we attempted this summit from black cloud trail and 3 miles in, I was throwing up, light headed, etc. Had to come back down to camp to sleep and hydrate. I was very upset as we had to head back to Vegas the following day. I said: I am not going home without doing Summiting this. The following morning we had woke at 330 am and hit the trail at 425-430 am. We made it to the summit at 7:45 am, took quick picks of the hazy horizon (smoke) and departed after 10 min on the summit (had a flight to catch). We were the second group to the summit that day. We made it back to the trail head at 10:12 am. Ran the last 500 yards to get to the trailhead before 10:15 for a great accomplishment. We brought a bottle of the oxygen that they sell everywhere you go, and it WORKS. You get your breath back immediately. Get an early start, wear warm clothing. The hike is really easy the first 1.5 miles. At the top of the tree line we had an average pack of 2.6 MPH, which slowed down after the tree line. That's when the climbing starts. We had a blast! The hike is a challenge, when you're in a hurry. The 3 false summits suck. Bring trekking poles and start early. When we were heading back down and made it back to the tree line, there was soooooo much traffic. Too many people underestimate this hike and start around 8 am. Get to the trailhead at 4 am and give yourself time. Happytrails.

This was an amazing hike and the view was incredible! It helped to have the weather cooperate for 100 percent of the day.
I was hiking with a group of 12, ages from 14 to 58, and physical fitness levels ranging from sedentary to extremely fit. The fit people didn’t have a problem completing the hike, 2 sedentary people made it past tree level but ended up turning around, and a few people (me included) who hadn’t been very active in the months previous but had some physical fitness before, made it up but it took a long time and it was hard to say the least. It was definitely worth the effort! The elation of everyone at the top was thrilling to be a part of and it maxed out all my happy endorphins.
I was pretty sore for many days after the hike but so glad I was able to complete it.

Wonderful hike! We started in the dark at 5:03am, and summited right at 9 am. We were down and in our car just before noon. So, approximately 7 hrs round trip at a slow and steady pace.

Oh, also...
Those false summits are soul crushing by the second one. I knew going into the hike that there were 3-4. I was still disheartened, but ultimately pushed through that mental barrier.

Completed this hike on Sunday the 12th. It was one of the most strenuous hikes I have done but it paid off at the top. Got to the trail head at about 5:15am and the outer ring of the lot was already full. Found a spot off the "road" and was on the trail around 5:30am. The first 1.5-2 miles is a steady incline which isnt too bad. At the 2-2.5 mile mark, the incline sets in. The worst of all is at about 3.5-4.5 miles in which is the steepest part. About 1k feet per mile in gain. I reached the summit around 8:30am after 3 or 4 false summits(great resting points). Incredible views of Twin Lakes, Mt Massive, and the entire Collegiate Peaks range. There were times it was a bit windy but once the sun came up, the win was very refreshing and welcomed.

Start as early as you are comfortable. The lot will get full quick on the weekends so be mindful of parking. Speaking of, I saw a few cars boxed in that could not leave. Not sure if they were part of a group but I had just enough room to get my vehicle out of the area it was in due to double and triple parking. Please do not do this as the last thing you want to do when youre done with this is wait for someone else to complete it and get back to their car.

Camped for free along the road leading up to the trailhead. Got my car to the parking lot at 5:30am and set off at 6. I wore leggings, a long sleeve, trail runners, and a dollar jacket I got from a goodwill. Took a 2L camelback and that was plenty. There are some parts above the tree line that are steep with lots of loose rocks, I took quite a few short breaks. So worth the effort once at the top!! Made it down by 11:00am. I do wish I would have brought gloves with me. Also, don’t carry a bunch of stuff you don’t need. The hike was easier because I carried light.

hiking
5 days ago

A challenging but truly epic hike & summit. The dirt road up to the trailhead was barely passable at 5-7 mph in a Honda Civic – by comparison, it was much better than the Grays/Torreys road from hell – but you’d be tempting fate in anything less than a high-clearance 4WD. Parking spots were still available at the trailhead (North Cottonwood Creek) at 7 AM on a Monday in August. Only encountered four or five other hikers all day.

This trail has basically four parts: in the forest, in the valley, ascending to the shoulder, and the final ascent to the summit. Each section is shorter but steeper and more challenging than the last; the last two sections have probably 2000-2500 feet of elevation gain across <2 miles. Beware of the two unmarked forks along this trail – at the first, it’s left to Harvard and right to Columbia, and at the second, keep right for the Harvard trail and go left for Bear Lake. Lots of marmots and pikas towards the end, and we saw some mountain goats from the summit. Goats aside, the summit views were absolutely spectacular – with minimal wind and clear skies, we spent 40 minutes up there.

Bottom line: definitely harder than some other 14ers but, with proper planning and expectations, totally worth it.

Amazing and rewarding hike completed 08/12 with the wife. Steep most of the way especially after treeline, about 3 false summits but easy stretch to summit. Great weather.

My tenth 14er and goes down as my favorite because the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a little deceiving because you’re surrounded by a forest and creek for about half the climb and you can’t see the exposed tree line area at all, but it’s nice this trail spoils you a little bit before the hard work starts. The trail was nice until the very top of the summit where there were big boulders. We had a Boston Terrier who struggled on this part a bit, definitely more class 3 terrain at the top. We only saw 4 other people and had the summit to ourselves, a first for me! The descent was nice and easy since it’s not too steep and you also end in a beautiful forest to reward yourself from the tough climb! Highly recommend.

Awesome hike today. I am kind of a rookie in hiking 14er (my 4th). My friend and I started 7:00 and we had a parking spot in the parking area. Hiking through the tree line was fairly moderate. Took a 20 mins at tree line. From tree line to nearly 14000 ft is steep and gravelly. There are couple false summits, however the summit stretch is very easy and rewarding. We summited a little before 11:00am. Enjoyed our top view for 45min. Going down was not easy, but took us shy 2 hour to get back to the trailhead (back in the car a little before 2:00 pm). Total hike 6 hours.
My recommendation:
1. One step at time (from a rookie prospective) and avoid sitting down, but try to slow pace yourself.
2. I recommend ibuprofen before/during hike. I am NOT a doctor nor a nurse but it helps me with altitude sickness. Please consult your doctor.
3. Good hiking shoes will be beneficial going down. It can get windy, so a windbreaker jacket will be great to carry.

Great hike yesterday. 4AM start. Two goats at the top. No clouds or wind. I think they should resurrect that pile of rocks on the top to make it higher than Elbert again!

Maybe my new favorite 14er. Really gorgeous, especially for a 14er. Not as much traffic as a lot of popular peaks either. Highly recommend early start, if for no other reason so you can see the sun rise above the Mosquito Range to the East. Also recommend a camp at Elbert Creek Campground the night before. Top notch campsites and just around the corner. And folks, please: STOP starting 14er climbs too late in the morning. Lightning is a real threat with late starts so get on the trail early.

Nice work out with obviously great views from the top. Very popular trail, even on weekdays. Tons of great dispersed camping options on the way to the trailhead!

Strenuous hike- especially for those who aren’t used to the altitude, but highly worth it. Amazing views as soon as you leave the tree line. beautiful wildlife and vegetation throughout entire hike. Get an early start and remember that it is just as much mental as it is physical!

I hiked this trail with two friends and our dogs a couple weeks ago. We camped in the surrounding area so we could start early and I'm glad we did. We took many breaks on the way up as the elevation gain and climb in general was pretty tough. This hike was by far the hardest I've ever done but so worth it. I highly recommend poles for the journey down.

We hiked this se trail on our descent after hiking up the steeper sw trail.
This trail was a dream.

Yesterday was a perfect day with no wind at summit. Started in dark at 5:30 and summited at 9:30. Almost entirely uphill and very steep at times. First false summit is hard, but after second you see the summit. Poles highly recommended, and road is quite rugged in spots.

camping
9 days ago

Great climb. Camped in the basin. Summited the next morning with my 12 and 9 year old.

Started later than I planned (7:30am) and the parking lot was full as already stated. One thing I’d disagree with would be the post-treeline portion was definitely not easier than the forested parts. Started off at 44° with long johns and a Patagonia, after the tree line switched to a dry fit and just pants, coming down at 11:30am switched to shorts and a t shirt. No wind weirdly or rain but lots of pre-noon smoke haze from California. A grueling hike but definitely worth it. Poles all the way if you have them!

Loved it. First fourteener and I liked the long approach, seemed a steady incline. With beautiful alpine meadow views. Brought the dogs and they did great, water on the ct section. Only at the scramble portion at the very top did I feel the need to keep them out of people’s way for safety.

hiking
13 days ago

Has at least half a dozen falls peak till you reach the summit and the view on the other side of the peak is just worth it.

Tips
1. Start early (Started at 3.30am from Denver, reached at 5.50am at parking lot and it was almost full.)
2. Carry lots of fluids (2-3L)
3. Get above the tree line quickly - Action is above treeline
4. Section before the first false summit is the toughest (ascent & descent) - It gets relatively better after that.
5. Be prepared for altitude sickness about ~12,000 ft - carry medication for that if necessary
6. An Advil/Brufen can help (no recommendation here, but it helped me)
7. Keep your backpack weight down (Every ounce counts)
8. Keep an eye out for bad weather (Weather is so unpredictable above the treeline - although, you could get lucky even in the later afternoon and it can be much nicer at times). Layer up. No matter what, its gonna be very windy up there.
9. Maintaining slow and steady progress will be crucial.
10. This is a psychological challenge as much as a physical one.
11. Suggested items: Sunscreen, sunglasses, hiking boots, hiking poles, energy bars

Endurance is the key

Excellent hike that takes you through pine forest, sub-alpine shrubs, and an amazing ascent up the massive granite field (which is full of marmots and pikas). Views are phenomenal, especially at the very top. Bring lots of water and food to stay energized.

Arrived at 8am on Saturday. Parking lot was full and tons of cars were lined on the street. We had a 4x4 pickup and found a spot driving up on the shoulder. This was only a 5 minute walk to the trailhead.

Started at 8:15 am and the weather was ideal mostly clear and sunny. Most hikers had ascended much earlier so there were few people going up at this time. You start climbing almost immediately so be prepared for very early inclines. Below the tree line offers many areas to relieve yourself in private.

Above the tree line you continue to encounter steep climbs but over 95% of the time you can simply just walk up. Given our late start many hikers were coming down at this time.

Nearing the top you have 3 steep climbs. The first provides a nice staging area to recover before your ascent to the false summit. After the false summit your adrenaline will carry you up to the summit where you can take your obligatory pictures.

Going down is rough on your quads and toes and choosing a correct path without slipping on the gravel can be a challenge. Many hikers were spotted with bloody knees and shins and this was a relatively clear and dry day.

Overall it took us a little less than 7 hours to go up and down. My group has climbed several of the "easy" 14ers and this was the hardest one secondary to the steep climbs. The payoff however is worth it as the views are incredible and you can say you climbed the tallest mountain in Colorado.

Load More