Mt. Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado and the Rockies, and the 2nd highest in the Continental US. On Aug 31 2004, I bagged my 10th fourteener, Mt. Elbert . It was a great day for a hike. I started at 6:15 AM. The sky was clear and cloudless.
There are a number of routes up the mountain. I chose one of the shortest and easiest routes which starts just above the Lakeview campground. To get there, drive west about 4 miles from CO 82 & US 24 (between MM 81 & 82 – I think). Turn right on Lake County Road 24 (Do not confuse with U.S. 24). Drive a mile or so to the Lakeview Campground. Just past the campground is an overlook and parking area. If you don’t have a high clearance 4WD, you should park here. If you do, turn left on the road immediately past the overlook.
This sign is next to the road, There is no notation that you are on the trail going to Elbert.
The road is pretty rocky and bumpy in some spots, not bad at all in others. The worst spots will need a high clearance 4WD, I wouldn’t recommend trying it in a regular passenger vehicle. Drive about 1.8 miles to the trailhead. Note that at 1.4 miles in, there is a creek crossing. There is enough parking for 1 or 2 vehicles before the creek if you don’t want to drive over it. Just before you get to the end of the road, you can turn left. DON’T turn. Continue straight about another .1 mile or so to the trailhead and footbridge.
Hike the trail about 1/4 mile past the bridge until you get to the trail register.
Sign in, and follow the trail to the left. It’s a great trail all the way up. The trail is well defined and very easy to follow, easier than other fourteeners I’ve been on. It is a bit rocky in spots (after all it is the Rocky Mountains), but it’s a walk-up all the way to the top.
The first part of the trail goes through aspens.
This is close to timberline. Mt. Elbert is in the center.
The first cloud of the day. (The previous pictures were taken in the afternoon on the way down)
There is still a way to go yet.
I made it!
On the day of my hike, I only saw about a dozen people all day, not bad for a beautiful summer day! Total round-trip time for me was about 12 hrs and 15 minutes. I’m not in the best of shape so it takes me 2 – 3 times as long to do a fourteener as it does most other people. Doesn’t bother me, I accomplished what I set out to do and had fun doing it. Good luck and happy climbing.…