North Mount Elbert Trail

HARD 305 reviews

North Mount Elbert Trail is a 9.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Leadville, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
9.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,442 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

At 14,440 feet Mount Elbert is the highest point in the Sawatch Range as well as the state. On this 4,500 foot climb you'll mostly be above treeline so be prepared. You will also be at altitude so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time. Also, make sure to get a VERY early start because thunderstorms always roll in during summer afternoons and it is highly dangerous to be above treeline in an electrical storm.

hiking
4 days ago

First 14er I ever did. Trail was easy to follow, lots of other hikers going up that day. Had to stop often to catch my breath.

7 days ago

First 14er yesterday... and I chose this one (or rather, my boyfriend did). It was a cool hike and I’d like to think I’m in good shape, but this is not an easy hike. I recognize now why they call them the Rockies, there is nothing but rock all over this mountain. The hike up was fantastic most of the way, but the elevation will get you with the terribly steep incline... now with that said, once you reach the top (10+ stops and 4 teary moments later for me) the views are astounding and you feel incredibly accomplished! On the way down, you should feel immense relief, however, your knees and hip flexors may take a beating... all and all it’s not all doom and gloom... it’s gorgeous and I would recommend if you’re looking for a challenge and youve done a couple 14ers... this is all

7 days ago

Amazing views! They made the whole hike worth it.

But the trail was difficult. It's almost completely incline on the way up, plus 2 brutal false summit inclines. I would say this isn't a beginner's hike unless you're in fabulous shape or familiar with 14ers. Plus coming down is hard on the knees.

8 days ago

Don’t let reviews saying how “easy” this is fool you. Yes, there are always the outliers who are super fit outdoor enthusiasts who are super human and can crush this thing and call it “not very difficult.” And hats off to them, we saw them cruising up and down and couldn’t be more in awe. But for the rest of us, it’s very difficult. I’m not fitness guru, I’m pretty average, but I can handle a decent hike. This one pushed me to my limit. On a mere 3 hours of sleep, we drove up from Denver (03:00-05:25), hit the trail at 05:25, and returned at 16:05. We took lots of small breaks, had plenty of nutritious food with protein and carbs + 3L of water each was perfect, and about 15 minutes at summit. I should also mention that at hour 3 I felt a strain in my right groin that only got worse the whole way up and back - by the end it was super painful, which definitely impacted my pace on the way back while going downhill. Three false summits and each one takes a lot of work to reach. It’s one steady incline the entire way up, and going down isn’t easy either, because it’s all careful footing the whole way down, even below treeline (there was some relief for a few small stretches below treeline, but very few). Having reached the summit seemed like such an accomplishment, and it is. But turning back around and grinding out 4+ more hours back? I could barely walk toward the end.

Everyone was so kind on the trail, when passing through the false summits, everyone gave us encouragement and I have to say, I think it was a huge influence that ultimately helped us dig deep and get to the top. The 360* views were spectacular. Feeling very proud and thankful to this beautiful state for giving us such incredible forces of nature.

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked this a week ago. Left 5:20am from trailhead and was back by noon. We did move fast so plan on spending time on the climb. The first false summit is rocky and steep, but the climb eases after that. Can’t beat the summit views both south to the collegiates and west to maroon bells. Worth the grind!

8 days ago

Fantastic

hiking
10 days ago

Camped the night before and was on the trail by 5:45 am (the parking lot at the trailhead was already crowded with the perimeter parking spots filled). This was definitely a challenging hike in regards to rapid elevation gain both below the tree line and above, but it was rewarding. Having been at sea level two days prior the hardest part was the altitude, but the legs definitely got a workout. The hike up the first false summit was pretty brutal! And got to model several different outfits as went from tank top to long sleeves and wind breaker above tree line! Stayed on summit for about 20 minutes and was back at the trailhead just after noon. Definitely needed a nap after this one!

hiking
10 days ago

Started at 6:30 am and finished around 3:30 or 4 pm. I’m from the Midwest, so the elevation slowed us down a bit, but the hike was so worth it. This was a great first 14er as the trail requires little scrambling.

10 days ago

Awesome hike. False summit is sad. I wish I used poles.

11 days ago

Definitely start early.. We started at 4:30 am.
This was my first 14er and we plod and go slow. It took us 9hrs 40 minutes. Lots of rocks and step ups from start to finish. I’m 58 and a flatlander, so I was sucking air. Also watch the weather. Afternoon storms are usually a given.

12 days ago

Our 1st 14er, glad we chose this one ! We started a bit late, 6:20 and barely got a spot in the parking lot. Go early, it got pretty warm on the descent, was wishing I wore shorts ! The peak is very windy but not too cold. There is a card board sign with Mt Elbert's elevation you can use at the you for a picture of you want, its weighted down with a rock. we saw a big mountain goat nearby and a pica. Stunning views at the top and a pretty, scenic hike. Pack light, it's a looking hike!

12 days ago

We started at 3:30am, got above tree line around 5:30am and watched the sunrise. Around 8am we summited and spent an hour at the top. Got back to our car around 11:30. It was an amazing hike and can be done with 1.5-2 liters of water!

hiking
15 days ago

My son and I hiked this back on June 18th, so glad we did! This was our 4th 14er (we do one a summer), and this year, we made a deal to hike the highest points in Colorado and New Mexico. By far, one of the prettiest hikes for a 14er... much longer hiking in the gorgeous treeline, and of course, the views from the top are unparalleled! Right now, we are praying for lots of rain in New Mexico-- can't hike Wheeler Peak until the level 3 fire restrictions are lifted, but still hoping to do both this summer!

hiking
18 days ago

We hiked up to about 11,500 the first afternoon, camped out, then did the summit the next day, was nice to break it up.

20 days ago

is there any water on the way

hiking
21 days ago

Bring trekking poles! I couldn’t stress that enough. You will need it a lot especially before the first false summit- very steep incline with lots of loose rocks. Also, put on some bug spray, lots of bugs and those darn giant mosquitoes that can bite even with your clothes on. Plan accordingly and look at the clouds as frequently as you could. Watch out for those dark ones. You don’t want to get caught in a storm up there. Other than that, enjoy the hike! It’ll be worth it! Gorgeous view! Welcome to the roof of Colorado!

hiking
23 days ago

Totally worth it for the view. Stayed a few nights in Denver and Leadville to adjust to altitude. Moderate in the beginning below tree line but somewhat treacherous with a bit of class 2 hiking near the top. Watch out for the two false peaks. Would recommend starting quite early and moving slowly

27 days ago

Below tree line is Gorgeous. Above tree line is HARD. Very stop and go after the false summit. Steep and thin air combo. Great views up top. Loose rock on the way back down. I don’t hike with poles, but I really wanted them for this.

hiking
28 days ago

Hurts so good

hiking
1 month ago

Good things to know:
-there are bathrooms at the trailhead (bring your own toilet paper, just in case)
-Halfmoon campground is just down the road and a convenient place to sleep the night before
-there are two false summits; you can't see the peak until near the top of the second false summit, just a few hundred feet away
-the climb up the first false summit is the hardest part
-trekking poles will be helpful coming down, especially
-always check the weather; plan to be below treeline by noon
-more info at 14ers.com

hiking
1 month ago

I have lived in Colorado for a few years and finally set some 14er goals. This was my first and was an amazing way to start the summer. The trail was deceptively easy until you get above the treeline and start seeing the false summits. Once you're out of the the trees take it slow and steady and you'll be to the top in no time. We hiked on a Thursday and started at 630a. Lots of other hikers. We time our time and finished around 300p. I drank about 1.5 liters of water. Loved it and will do it again with my kids as they get older.

1 month ago

Definitely worth the effort! However, this hike is by no means "easy". Took me and my wife ~8hrs to complete the hike and we thought we were flying past people going up! Enjoy!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Very challenging for anyone who’s not acclimated for more than a week. (From Missouri @ 800 ft elevation) Started at 6:30am and summited at noon. Started working our way down at 1:00pm and got back to the car by 4pm. The last mile or so is very steep and tiring so prepare yourself for that and also know that the false summits will be discouraging. The way down is also tough as it’s very steep and a trekking pole will save your knees, feet, and quads. Amazing views all around and well worth all the effort once you’re up top!

Pro tip: Start early, the parking lot will be full by 730.

Phenomenal hike, has a bit of everything!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail! No snow and beautiful views throughout. Trekking poles would have been nice for the way down

hiking
1 month ago

my first 14er. great experience.

1 month ago

My first 14er, definitely a good climb not much technical climbing besides a sketchy rocky part near the first false summit, got snowed on near the top, but wasn’t cold enough for it to stick, also 3 or 4 small portions that require trekking through snow but was easy with trekking poles and hiking shoes. Views from the top were amazing! Didn’t get to hang long because of an approaching storm. Wild camped near Elbert creek campground and woke up with ice on our tent! Well worth the effort highly recommend for first time climbers.

hiking
1 month ago

For anyone wondering about conditions--trail is almost entirely free of snow and completely doable in regular hiking boots! Check 14ers.com always for the latest conditions on any peak.

Took just over 3.5 hours to reach the summit last Sunday, cold and windy at the top as expected but the whole hike has absolutely stunning views and the top is beyond incredible.

1 month ago

Took us 8 hrs moving time, beautiful views once above the tree line. Beware the 3 false peaks, they will break your heart. 3L water was fine in cool temps. Views at the top are fantastic and well worth the effort.

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely not for the faint of heart if you intend on making it to the peak! Clearly marked trails that start off easy and increase in difficulty with elevation. Worth the work for the incredible views! Started at 8am and ended up back at the car around 3:30pm.

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