• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Distance: 13.7 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 4500 ft. Stunning views during the entire hike. Challenging yet non-technical summit hike. Stand on top of the second highest peak in Colorado. Great camping by the trailhead.

Starting from the Mt Massive Trailhead off of Halfmoon Creek Road (a half mile past the more popular Mt Elbert Trailhead), follow the excellent and easy trail into the woods. This trail is wide and abnormally flat for a 14er trail for the first three miles. During these first 3 miles the only real "challenge" comes in the form of two stream crossings. However, unless you are going in very early summer, the rocks to cross the streams should be exposed, making it very easy.

After these first fast and easy 3 miles, things start to get a little harder. Just after the second stream crossing, take a left at an obvious and clearly marked trail junction and start the first real climb of the hike. This climb is fairly short and not all that steep, but will still be enough to wake the legs up. After this short climb you will be dumped off in a beautiful alpine meadow with views of Leadville, Elbert, and finally, your destination. Meander through this valley for half a mile or so, and then start the real hike.

After the meadow, your goal is to get to an unnamed 12,000 foot point. Once at this point, the rest of the route will be visible, and it can be discouraging. Knowing that you have already walked over 3 miles, yet seeing a great distance between you and the summit is never a fun thing. But, as the saying goes; "every summit is within reach if you just keep climbing." So, at this point, do exactly that. Start climbing, basically in a straight line up from the 12,000 foot point to the South Massive-Massive saddle at around 13,900. This section to the saddle is quite long and maintains enough of a grade to keep your legs burning throughout its entirety. However, the views from the saddle alone make it worth it.

Once at the saddle, stop, take in the views of Leadville and the valley on one side, and towering peaks on the other, and get ready for the last, and hardest, bit of the hike. From the saddle head right and up (left will take you up the smaller South Massive, and there is no obvious trail up). You will find yourself on the ridge to the summit, and this ridge will not be easy. There are numerous steep and somewhat loose sections, as well as some points that can give way to some decent exposure. The real challenge to the ridge, however, is doing it knowing that you've already hiked over 6 miles.

If you keep heading up the ridge on the broken trail, you will eventually find yourself on top of a point. This point will seem like the summit, but it is unfortunately not. The true summit is about a quarter mile further northwest. This quarter mile will pass quickly as there is no real elevation to be gained, and before long you will be on the beautiful summit of one of Colorado's most stunning peaks.

Once there, sit back, eat a sandwich, drink a beer or whatever it is you do to celebrate reaching the top, and prepare your mind and knees for the long walk back to the car.

Pack List

  • STURDY SHOES (its a long walk, you'll want to be comfortable)
  • PLENTY OF WATER (again, long walk, lots of time above 10,000 feet; don't be dumb)
  • Daypack
  • Trekking poles
  • Snacks and food for lunch
  • Camera
  • A few layers just in case the summit is windy (expect some wind)
  • A good attitude
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Reviews

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This was really fun to hike because there were not many people on the trail and the views are beautiful!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a long approach but well worth it. The views of the West Elks are stunning and you'll encounter a lot fewer people than on nearby Mt Elbert.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

This remains one of my favorite 14ers of all I've done so far. It's a long day with the 14 miles RT, but the hike is quite enjoyable. Great forest, wildflowers, and of course the views are amazing with this being the second highest peak in the state!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Jeff Richards Explorer

Addicted to the mountains and in love with all they offer.

 Boulder, CO

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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