Mount Massive Trail (via South East)

HARD 87 reviews

Mount Massive Trail (via South East) is a 12.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Twin Lakes, Colorado 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.

DISTANCE
12.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,553 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

rock climbing

snowshoeing

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

scramble

snow

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.

hiking
30 minutes ago

Got park area at 5.20 AM and leaving at 5.40 with my wife.Pretty cold 30 degrees. Trail start easy, with easy crossing of two streams. The sunrise from Mosquito was stunning with forest start to live. The trail goes up alert 3 miles ,well marked with some steep sections to the saddle at the ridge. Wonderful views all around . The trail remain easy to follow on the ridge paying some attention. Two mountain goats in sight! Passed the false summit quickly we reach the top. Stunning views, even with the smoke from wildfires. Because the nice weather we stay on top for 45 minutes. Back to the car at 15.05 PM. Wonderful hike, strenuous but it worth. We did almost 14 peaks, but this is one of the best at all. We never forget

hiking
1 day ago

If anyone has any info or advice for my post below please contact me at keastonh@gmail.com Thanks!

hiking
1 day ago

***HELP! I left my camera int he trialhead parking lot..My friend and I climbed Mt Massive on Thursday and returned to the car Friday around 11pm..I vividly remember setting it on the tire of my van prior to leaving. The camera is a canon g7x, it could be ran over but I'm hoping the sd card is still intact...I am happy to pay a finders fee to anyone generous to send it to me if they have it..Thanks.

1 day ago

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.

hiking
3 days ago

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.

hiking
8 days ago

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!

9 days ago

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.

hiking
10 days ago

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

12 days ago

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
15 days ago

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.

hiking
20 days ago

Very tame trail up until the end. Slightly rocky near the top(predictably). The trail split is very well marked and it’s easy to tell where to go without any kind of map. The view was great. I wouldn’t say it is as challenging/rewarding as Elbert but that’s why you hit both while you’re in Leadville

hiking
24 days ago

Beautiful trail, would absolutely recommend! Lots of wildflowers, cute marmots and different landscapes on the way. But, this took much longer than I anticipated, and I’m a speedy hiker. Started my ascent at 6:50 and summited at 11:10, with a couple generous breaks on the way up. Stayed up there for about an hour and then got back to the car at 3:20. Went on a Friday and if you can make it on a weekday it is so worth it. Only saw about 20 people total the whole day and didn’t see anyone on my descent—so peaceful. Also definitely go all the way and don’t just stop at the false summit!—it’s not that far off!

Also, if you are feeling ambitious, camp over the weekend and do Elbert and Massive on back-to-back days. There is a ton of camping space along the dirt road that connects the trailheads (as well as on the Colorado trail that starts out Mt. Massive it seems), would make for a great few days.

1 month ago

Had the best time hiking this today! This was my tenth fourteener and probably has been my favorite so far. Not super hard and the trail was very well defined and easy to follow. Views were some of the prettiest I have seen! It also isn’t as popular as Elbert which I did last summer so it was nice not having the trail be super crowded. Saw some mountain goats as well. 10/10 recommend!

1 month ago

Was awesome!! Done 11 and this was my favorite.

trail running
1 month ago

This is a great trail for a hard but not too technical climb of a 14er..long enough to make it difficult and some fun but not crazy scrambling and route finding to get up to the summit ridge. The parking can be a challenge due to the Mt Elbert trailhead close by so arrive before 6am to give yourself enough time. Also lots of varied terrain from the CO trail at start to the high meadow with wild flowers. Superb views from the top. There was a fair amount of traffic on the trail this Saturday but not at all overcrowded.

1 month ago

Great views and a lovely hike! From the parking lot it’s about 14.8 miles, and it took us about 7 hours. Definitely start early!

1 month ago

Epic hike and epic views 10/10!

hiking
3 months ago

My absolute favorite 14er hike that I've done so far. Beautiful alpine wilderness. Would do this again in a heartbeat.

6 months ago

Lots of mountain goats

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Long but worth the effort! Amazing views on both sides of the ridge!

hiking
Saturday, August 12, 2017

This was a great first 14er. It was a bit of a late start- I don't think we reached the trailhead until maybe even 8:30- but luckily the weather held. It is a very challenging hike if you're not used to the elevation, but is well worth it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Spectacular hike, stunning open fields with wildflowers and open views. Steady approach to an open summit ridge that offered better views then Elbert. Coming from New York it was worth the huffing and puffing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We went on 7/15/17 and started a little later than we hoped around 7am. We went for the shorter distance trail and views on the way up were completely worth it!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

We went in early june which was too early due to snow covering most of the trail which probably added 2 hours to the climb as we kept losing the route.

But the Forrest section is very cool, with a few rivers to cross. And then the last hour going up the peak is very steap and pretty hairy at parts. views at the top we're great and enjoyed every second of the climb.

We started at the trailhead at 5am and didn't see one single person, but again this was June 3rd 2014 and was still very snowy

hiking
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Started day one with Mt. Elbert summit then hit the Mt. Massive trail early afternoon. We camped at 11,500 and enjoyed a quiet, but cold, night under the stars. Early departure for summit at 4am and enjoyed every aspect of the summit hike. The view from the top of Mt. Massive is spectacular, especially at sunrise. A much different experience than Mt. Elbert, challenging but a great hike. Broke camp at a leisurely pace and on the road by Noon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tough hike--one of the harder 14ers. Still quite a bit of snow, so pack appropriately! Waist deep in places.

hiking
Thursday, May 18, 2017

This still reigns as my favorite hike of all time. Such a gorgeous creation of God. The views from the peak are breathe-taking and even the hike up is lush with so many wild flowers and greenery. I wish I could give this six stars. Absolutely would recommend!

hiking
Friday, March 24, 2017

gorgeous, difficult ♡

hiking
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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.

hiking
Saturday, November 21, 2015

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.

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