North Mount Elbert Trail is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Leadville, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from May until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

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

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

rock climbing

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.

1 day ago

Truly amazing hike with breathtaking views from the summit. Trail had dusting of snow up to treeline. This lower section was icy on descent...YakTrax were helpful. Above treeline snow was a bit deeper, but trail is clear and doable with boots... snowshoes won't be really necessary until another snow or two. Wife and I summited with boots and YakTrax...poles are a must as traction can be difficult on the steeper sections.

20 days ago

49th 14er, easy class 1 with amazing views of collegiate peaks. No scrambling towards the summit. Very good maintained trail. Start early to beat the crowds! Took me 5 hours round trip, started at 6am back to the vehicle at 11am. Spent only 10-15 mins at the summit.

hiking
25 days ago

Great hike with amazing views from the summit. It is a long hike with false summits. Just keep hiking until you can see 360 deg panorama view (also you can tell it’s the peak). Took 4 hrs up and 2 coming down(had poles which saves an hr coming down!!) poles also save time on climb also!! Once you get out of the forest , the views are great the whole way to the top ! There was snow on top of mt and it was windy and cold so take layers! I was surprised there was not a rock scramble to the peak. There is a good trail from the base to the peak which makes this 14’r easier from technical standpoint than most. It is a long hike but not very difficult . I left at 7 am and didn’t see but 1 person going up. Coming down I saw 20 plus! If you want solitude, go early!!
Fun 14’r- take plenty of water and good shoes as it is a long hike! My gps showed just shy of 10 miles but vertical is just short of 4500’ which is a full day

hiking
27 days ago

As part of an Outward Bound course, I carried a 65 pound pack over the top of Mt Elbert, as we did not return the route we ascended. That was 38 years ago. I plan to try it again as a day hike at age 65.

first 14er!

1 month ago

I came from 5 feet above sea level - I live in New Orleans- to do my first 14er. I did 4 hikes in the 3 days before to acclimate. Seemed to work well. We maintained a planned pace with built in rest breaks. If you are looking at your altitude, the false summits aren’t really false. It is hard if you don’t hike at altitude regularly, but doable.

It was simply awesome. The comradery at the summit was really cool with about 20 people all just kind of hanging out. So glad we picked this hike.

1 month ago

This was by far the hardest hike I have done. Such a mental and physical challenge. I would bet more than half the people hiking up did not summit the day I was there. Do not take this lightly. I started at 7am and finished at roughly 5pm. Spent about 45mins-1hr at the summit taking in the hard earned views. The views and the accomplishment are enough to make it well worth the struggle. I did not taking hiking poles and was just fine. My Apple Watch did clock it in at longer than all trails states - ~11-12 miles for what that’s worth. I did not think the false summits were as bad as everyone said. Aspens were golden and gorgeous and the weather conditions were great. Don’t forget sunscreen, I have a burnt nose to prove it! Don’t under estimate this hike, seriously! Though it is ranked one of the easier 14ers as far as the class of the climb, climbing this much elevation this quickly is TOUGH!! But so so worth it if you can grit through it!

1 month ago

Did his yesterday. And phew! We got about 9.5 miles up and back. Prefect fall leaf peeping weather but lots of sun exposure so put sunscreen on a few times. We did it in about 5:45 but it was exhausting ! Pèrfect fall weather , emptied our camelbacks and wish we’d had a little more water so bring a bunch . Saw several people not equipped and with kids as small as 3 at treelike late in the day and they looked miserable. I would advise NOT bring smaller children too far up as they all were crying and miserable. Some having to try and carry kids (or asking strangers to carry their kids down?!) down on rough terrain. Make sure you have an older, tough kid for this if you go past tree line!

1 month ago

Great hike and worth the amazing view at the top! I started at 5am and it took me 6 hours to summit and 3 hours to come down - slower than the average person and I stopped a lot, especially on the way up. I had no storm threat today so wasn’t stressed to go fast. Coming down also took some time because it was very slick due to loose gravel on steep downhills, and the additional feel of legs turning to jello. Don’t let the “class 1, easy to follow, only 10 miles” fool you. Shorter trails = steeper. If you prefer less steep but longer routes are good for you, check the other “class 1” route to the top. I haven’t done that route but heard several good comments about the other route. this trail is well marked and no concern starting before dawn, assuming you have a flashlight. My two devices clocked in at 11 miles and 12 miles respectively. When actually on this route, I wouldn’t judge your time left based on miles left, but rather remaining elevation climb. As everyone already said, false summits are no joke and mess with your head.

hiking
1 month ago

A lovely day, weather was great when I hiked this on Sept 10, 2018. Trailhead was easy to find. It was a Monday in September so there were no crowds. Enough other hikers to make you feel safe, but no congestion at all.
There are spots near the top that are quite steep but totally doable and still Class 1. It was really windy at times, so wearing my rain jacket even though it was sunny worked out well.

hiking
1 month ago

The first false summit is ok, because you know it’s coming. The third false summit is fine, because you can see the top from there. That second false summit though...
Still, 5 stars, especially now, because all the leaves are changing colors.

hiking
1 month ago

Overall, wasn't that bad. No big rock scrambles, some steep portions. My group read that this was 15 miles up and down...we recorded somewhere around 11-12. started at the trailhead at 5am, above tree line by 6:30 for the sunrise, summit before 10am. It did have the false summits people talk about, but they're not really false if you're watching your altitude via an app, right? it was windy at times, but nothing more than what you'd expect at 12k+ feet with exposed terrain. Probably wouldn't try this if you can't walk up a few flights of stairs, or get winded walking your dog. Honestly, this was not that bad as long as you know what you're getting in to. highly recommended.

1 month ago

Beautiful Fall Day!

1 month ago

I’m not sure how much I can add that hasn’t already been reviewed...start early, lots of water and snacks, two false peaks, 2nd highest peak in the continental U.S., yada yada. This was an ambitious undertaking for me as it was my first 14er. I’m a southern boy accustomed to living life at less than 2000 ft above sea level. I came out a day early for a warm-up hike to acclimate to the altitude. The impact from altitude is real; I never experienced altitude sickness but being short of breath and elevated heart rate definitely impacted my hike. Pack appropriately...I did this hike in August and wish I had packed gloves and a winter beanie as it was upper 40’s above the tree line with 40 MPH winds. The first false summit is the toughest, so don’t be discouraged. Once you make the first false summit, you’ve knocked out the hardest part. This hike is brutal at times, but pace yourself nice and slow, take breaks as needed, and soak in this amazing gift from God. Be prepared for an emotional tsunami when you do summit. Take a few moments at the summit to enjoy your accomplishment.

1 month ago

My first 14’er! Albeit an easier 14’er, this hike was hard.... bring lots of water, and do not let the false summits fool you! Honestly, even coming back down was a challenge - what is steep walking up is also steep going down. Got to the trailhead at 5:30-5:45AM and summited about 10:30AM; there were about 30 people at the top. The views are absolutely stunning and ~2/3rds of the hike is completely exposed.

1 month ago

Amazing 14er!! Beautiful forest trail on the way up (it had me sweating that’s for sure), and gorgeous views once you’re past the timber line! I started pretty late, but I made it up in 2:46min and finished it in a little more than 5 hours! Highly recommended!

hiking
1 month ago

Great first fourteener. The trail up the first false summit was quite steep, but amazing views even halfway up the trail and the odd Pika here and there. Be sure to start as early as you can though, for the sake of both the weather and the crowd. We went on Saturday of Labor day weekend and it was *packed* - parking was hard to find.

1 month ago

Amazing hike. We did this hike the 3rd week in July and the wildflowers were gorgeous. I’m a little over weight but active. This hike was difficult but doable. The altitude during the last 1/3 of the hike made it slow going. The view from the summit is worth all the huffing and puffing though. It’s a huge challenge mentally and physically but there were so many people cheering you on and just a camaraderie overall. I carried 3L of water and drank almost all of it. We got to the trail head around 530 am and back around 2pm. My first 14er and it won’t be the last.

1 month ago

Great hike with magnificent views
NO problems with altitude but it is a strenuous hike especially in the hot sun on a clear day.
Up and down in 7hrs 35 mins.

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice and challenging trail. Had to turn around before the end because of a storm. Make sure you bring the right gear for cold weather even in August!

hiking
1 month ago

My first 14er. It’s classified as a “1” on that 1-5 difficulty scale. I started at 9 am, I was back at my car by 8:30 pm. I rested here and there for a cumulative amount of an hour or a little more. It was easy and great the first 2 hours, then once you get to the tree line it’s supposedly the half way mark distance wise. But it gets steep and rocky at this point. And yes like 2 or 3 false summits. Just had to keep going. It was a challenge. A long hike at 10 miles round trip and high making breathing hard. So many cool awesome people who shared water, a sandwich, candy! Tylonel, and just cheering me on! So kind! Not crowded but enoug people for me to feel safe always in view. So beautiful and the smell of fresh air just gets me! 6-7 hours up, 4 hours down. Weather was perfect. It’s a real mountain !! Btw, it’s thursday and my legs are still sore! Loved every minute of it! Mount Massive was to my right the entire time! So cool!

Hiked it on 8/20. For a 14er, this was short and sweet.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

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