Mount Elbert East Ridge Trail

HARD 121 reviews
#3 of 120 trails in

Mount Elbert East Ridge Trail is a 12.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Twin Lakes, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

12.3 miles
4,888 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips

rock climbing






wild flowers



The highest peak in Colorado. The east ridge can be accessed from Leadville CO. Beautiful views from the summit. Cold in May. The East Ridge is the easiest route from the others routes. This route is classified as a Class 1 route. Beautiful views of Twin Lakes and other mountains at the top. Make sure to check the weather conditions prior to going.

4 months ago

If you have a vehicle that will make it up the 4WD road, I’d 100% recommend this route! The trail is beautiful, with amazing views over Twin Lakes, and of course the summit views were also great. We even saw a wedding ceremony being performed at the top! There were some other hikers on the trail, but it didn’t look nearly as busy as the north route, which you could see at parts from this east ridge trail. Long but not technical at all, I would absolutely recommend hiking poles for the descent for people with bad knees like me, they were lifesavers. Took us about 6.5 hours RT. Hiked 7/21/18

4 months ago

Great trail hike, beautiful views. Trail is perfect and well maintained. Good easy hike straight up. I drove up the 4wd upper trail head road in my Subaru outback with no issues. Starting at the upper trail head I still recorded 10.5 miles up and back so prepare for a long hike, but it is worth it!

4 months ago

So I would say this is probably one of the technically easiest hikes I have done. But don't let that fool you its a long day hike and the elevation will challenge you if you're not used to it. We drove up as far as we could go in our civic up the 4 wheel drive route (about 1.2 miles). Don't do this if you're scared about scraping a little here and there. We also made sure to navigate the road during daylight the evening before to be sure I could make it. Anyway, we left the lodge at 5am and drove up the 4 wheel road and parked at the spot I picked out the day before. Got to the 4 wheel parking lot on foot around 6am (trail head). Reached the peak at 12ish (us low landers were sucking wind). We saw a few people turn back on the way up but most made it up. we got back to the car around 6pm. Again, technically easy, but still a tough day hike. Not the nicest views when you get up there but still really cool to say you've been to the highest peak in Colorado.

5 months ago

Quite difficult, but worth it when you get to the top. Bring warm clothes!

7 months ago

We slept in the jeep at the 4wd parking area (high clearance needed) and started at 3 a.m. You start out in a beautiful aspen forest, then through a small meadow and soon reach treeline. The trail is very easy to follow, and is a pretty steady uphill. We were alone at the summit for about 45 minutes, and the views were possibly the best in Colorado. Took us about 3.5 hours to summit, 1.5 back to the trailhead. My 8 y/o shephard also hiked with us and had no problems.

9 months ago

Would it be a mistake to drive a Nissan Altima the 1.8 miles to the Upper Trailhead?
I’ve watched videos and the road does not look too bad. On the other hand if I got stuck it would be
bad. On the bright side walking the 1.8 miles would be a good warm up. All comments appreciated.
Thank You.

9 months ago

03/16: Drove from 800 ft elevation in mid west, stayed overnight in Leadville and started hike early morning from south Mount Elbert trailhead parking (paved road from Leadville). Usual south trail was closed for renovations and there was a new trail that shoots off of the colorado trail further north. Follow the posted directions on the Colorado trail. Just wore winter hiking boots for most part of the hike but there was about a mile stretch where I had use snowshoes. At the tree line left my snow shoes and used only hiking poles there on. The wind grew stronger as I climbed further and had to wear balaclava. The views at the summit are just amazing. It was definitely worthy.

10 months ago

3/12/18-- trail was covered in deep snow, if it weren't packed it would be really tough to find. But fantastic views and extremely challenging!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

this trail is the old trail. it closed summer 2017. visit the new trail.

Monday, November 06, 2017

I made it to the top today 11-5-17, it was really windy above tree line, I used micro spikes, gaiters, and trecking poles and had no problems. I would recommend a face mask, the wind and snow gave me an ice beard. I parked about 1/2 mile up the 4x4 road, started at 7:30am made it to the top at 11:30am and back to my truck at 3:45pm. The trail was easy to follow all the way to the top, below tree line there was about 1-2 inches, above the tree line on average it was ankle deep, some spots were wind swept clean other spots were mid shin drifts.

Monday, October 09, 2017

October 7, 2017 | need four wheel drive to get to trail head - we had to park about .5 mi from trailhead due to a large rock and decent amount of water on road. Trail was snow covered most of the way up with beautiful views. saw some elk and coyote. definitely harder to navigate the slush on the way down. Wind was too strong to summit but made it to about 13,500 ft in trail runners. Started at 9ish and turned back at 12ish. Can’t wait to try with snow shoes or next summer!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Attention all hikers! The trail on this app is not up to date. There as been a new sustainable trail constructed for the lower portion of this trail, which is located about 400ft down the Colorado trail from where the existing use to be. Please read and fallow the sign that says the restoration is in progress. More signs are on the way and will be made more clear. But DO NOT fallow the route that is listed for this app at least until updates can be made.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Anthony is correct. Two miles up from the trailhead on County Road 24 you will find the old section of trail decommissioned with restoration in progress. This is clearly marked. Checks are installed (not built for hiking safety, but to hold water and soil) and revegetation is in progress. Proceed to the new section. It is complete and offers a more stable corridor.

Monday, September 11, 2017

There is a new trail that was just built. The map on this site is incorrect and needs to be updated. The new trail is very gradual and easy to find. Please don't walk on the old trail. It is unsafe and decommissioned.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Great hike, but surely not for the beginners. They indicate the first 2 miles could be done by 4WD - they really mean 4WD (not SUV)! Fantastic views with aspens turning to yellow. Although there were no clouds part of the trail is open and very windy. The trail is not trafficked heavily (certainly less than the north trail).

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Tough but well worth it

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Awesome hike! Some steady inclines but worth the views!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Amazing hike to the top of Colorado. No hand scrambling required to summit this view of other 14ers surrounding it, just a good power hike. We had ideal conditions in early September with turning Aspen's, sunny sky, no wind and mild temps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Easy to see and follow trail, quite steep in about 3 sections. Started at 5:30 am from about. 5 miles in on the 4x4 road (camped the night before) and made the summit with the dog just before ten. Was faster going back down. Wildflowers are in bloom just above the tree line as well. The view from the top is fantastic.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mentally and physically demanding, but overall a great hike.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Went with my friend from Nashville and carried his backpack up the summit. Long trail, cool views of twin lakes

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Amazing views. Definitely requires some athletic ability, although it's definitely worth it.

Started at the trailhead at 0715 and made the summit at 1005.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Great climb. Beautiful views. Take your bug spray:)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beautiful hike. The map I followed doesn't utilize the Colorado Trail very well, so we ended up following the road from the lower trailhead to the top of Mt. Elbert. This is a LONG one though, started at 0450 and summited at 0952, then left at 1054 to arrive at the lower trailhead again at approximately 0230. We were exhausted, but happy to complete the trail today.
- Beautiful wildflowers most of the way up
- Tons of aspens would make this a gorgeous autumn hike
- Nice views of Mt. Massive, La Plata, Leadville, the Twin Lakes, and countless other peaks
- Take a ton of water, don't try the 4WD road if you only have a 2WD, and make sure that you pace yourself. You can burn yourself out pretty quickly if you aren't careful about your energy expenditure and have poor breath control.

Happy hiking!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

This is a great hike! There are amazing views of Twin Lakes along a lot of the route. It is fairly strenuous at some points, especially the last little bit to get to the summit. But the views at the top are incredible and are well worth the hike. Some say Elbert is one of the easiest to climb, but when you're walking up 4,500 feet it's really no joke. It was my first 14er but I'm sure there are other "easier" hikes in terms of length and elevation gain.

I did the trail with my dog and he was a champ, but he's used to walking 6+ miles/day so keep that in mind. Someone at the top had booties on her dog that I'd recommend considering if your dog isn't used to walking or is prone to blistering.

Also, don't rely on my recoding time as I forgot to stop it at certain points (when I was hanging out at the summit and when I got back to my campground). I left a little further than the start point at 5 am and hit the summit around 9 (not taking into account some no -hiking breaks, like figuring out how to ford the stream/river before the main trailhead). I camped along the forest road and was back at my campsite around 11:30. I didn't see too many people on my way up, but passed a lot on my way down. I'd suggest starting early so you don't have to turn back when the afternoon thunderstorms come about and miss the summit.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

Had a blast. Quads are spent.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Was a great hike yesterday. Last 2 miles still covered in snow but manageable with snow poles and remaining in previous tracks. Heading out and back early really makes the difference. Nearing the summit, since it's all snow covered, the trail is quite direct and upward.

The worst part was heading back down when the snow was as melting. You'd sink down into the snow which could be to waist deep at points. I brought snowshoes, but just roughed it out through these sections, really an amazing hole for early morning .

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fantastic hike! Great views, and challenging without being too difficult. Great for new 14er-ers. I would say Mt. Massive is the best hike in the area, but this is still amazing!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Very beautiful trail with gorgeous wild flowers along the way, a lot of switch backs and several false summit, but overall a nice graduate incline. First 2 14ers ever in 2 consecutive days to celebrate my 1 month of moving to Colorado!

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