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South Mt. Elbert Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sawatch Range
14ers Served:  Mt. Elbert
Road Type:  Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD paved to the lower (main) TH. 4WD dirt to 10,400’ at the upper TH.
Directions:  From U.S. 24 south of Leadville, take Colorado 82 west toward Twin Lakes. Drive about 4 miles and turn right onto the 24 road. Drive 1.2 miles up a hill to the main trailhead parking area (paved) on the left. This is the lower trailhead and 2WD vehicles should park here. Continue 50 feet past the lower TH and turn left on Forest Service road 125.1B (4WD). From here itís 1.8 miles to the upper trailhead. Walk or drive up the 4WD road to reach the start of the trail.

Along the 4WD road there are many pull-offs and some camping spots. Near 0.5 mile thereís a rough patch on the road but most 4WD vehicles should be able to get past it. Near 1.5 miles thereís a very rough patch that will stop most vehicles. If you canít drive past this point, thereís parking down the road a bit. Continue to the end of the road to find parking throughout the trees and the start of the trail.
Winter Access:  Closed at the start of the 4WD road.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-07-02 Road to 4-wheel drive trailhead is easily driveable in a stock 4wd vehicle with moderate clearance. A few rough spots and rocks in the road. Several SUVs and pickups at the trailhead today. Even a Ford station wagon made it (although it likely took very careful driving). Stream crossing was six inches deep. tyler32         
2014-05-22 Snow moved up to treeline get it! mtn_climber214  1       
2014-05-19 The road is now clear all the way to the 4WD trailhead gregpeak         
2014-05-09 2-wheel drive South Elbert Trailhead is clear, paved. Parked at this TH, hiked up the 4-wheel drive road, and continued up the East Ridge. Third time on the mountain. Early season and chance of snow each time. Always parked here. High clearance might have made it to the upper TH. Mostly clear with a little snow pack at the upper TH. Could be hard to turn around once you get past the campsites at the beginning of the dirt road, single lane. Look up the NOAA weather report before going. Heavy snow forecasted! mtn_climber214         
2014-04-10 Skied Elbert this morning. 2wd trailhead was bone dry. The road was 95% snow covered but melting out extremely quickly. benglish         
2013-12-09 Drove .3 miles past the 2wd TH, there is a small place to park. Xterra 4WD‘s undercarriage skid plates rubbed on center of the road in a few places. The road had not been traveled past that turn-around point. Eagle Eye         
2013-11-30 was able to pretty easily go 1.2 miles past the 2wd TH in a stock 4x4 frontier. Crossed over the creek and stopped soon after. the road got steeper and we started to spin so we stopped there. jack660         
2013-11-24 There is a tree across the 4WD road about .75 mile past the 2WD TH. I drove to that point with no problem (Xterra Pro-4X), then had to back up and find a place to park. KTC88    2      
2013-11-10 Easily made it to the upper TH in a 4 Door Jeep today. There was also a Subaru Outback there. †The upper road is pretty much free of snow and ice now. When you start up 125B measure your mileage. I forgot and ended up on a pretty scary road that leads to an old mine around 12,000 ft. On the way down I measured 1.75 miles from the start to the right turn for the upper TH.† alpinenut         
2013-10-05 Road clear and easy to S Elbert 4WD TH. One small creek crossing, but no snow or ice as of 10/5. Picture shows turn around area at the end of the road. fahixson  1       
2013-09-08 Road is in good shape to 200ish yards below the trailhead for stock 4x4(2010 Nissan Xterra). Saw a late 90‘s/early 2K Subaru Legacy wagon up there as well. Last 200 yards doable for stock 4x4 with decent clearance, but why bother - plenty of parking at the intersection. LetsGoMets         
2013-08-12 I drove up to the upper trailhead in my 1976 VW Baja Bug, and had no issues with it. The road is rough in places, but the big rocks can be avoided with some careful driving. I would rate this road a 2-2.5 instead of a 4. The stream crossing was about 6 inches deep, and I had no trouble. The biggest issue with this road is that it is fairly steep in places. 4wd is not a necessity, but a bit of clearance is recommended. I have about 10 inches, and had no trouble. I hope this helps. shaberer0511         
2013-05-26 Made it up to the top trailhead with a Forester - there was a small water crossing but the water was running over rocks rather than mud so it wasn‘t bad at all. Could probably do it with slightly lower clearance if you‘re crafty with some of the rocks on the road. runaroundaroo         
2013-05-04 Made it within 200 feet of the 4WD TH in my buddy‘s Mountaineer. OscarMayerSweener         
2013-04-28 Made it up to about 200 ft short of the ‘trailhead‘ in a subaru outback, road was mostly dry. The last 100 or so ft is muddy, though, and could get you stuck if you‘re not careful. If you‘re worried about it, go in/out at night or early morning when it‘s frozen. GregMiller         
2013-02-05 Climbed Mt. Elbert today via the East Ridge. I drive a 1998 4wd Toyota 4Runner with some beefy all-terrain tires and was able to make it within maybe 200 feet of what appeared to be the last parking area (fairly large) before the 4wd trailhead. There‘s a spot big enough for 1 car right about there, on the right. Someone came after me in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with cables on the front and made it the last few hundred feet into the last parking area. It looked like they had quite a time with it, but at that point, they really had no choice other than backing out for quite a ways (which I wouldn‘t recommend at that point). There were two spots, curves, close to the end where I got a little too far out of the ruts and got stuck for a few seconds, but was able to work my way out. That‘d be my #1 caution - the snow outside the ruts is slushy and it doesn‘t take getting out of them very far before you‘re sliding or stuck. The way out was fairly smooth but again, you could get into trouble if you‘re going too fast and get out of the ruts, especially since you‘re descending. Dang ole gravity. Info the the attached pictures: #1 (IMG_0097) is what the road looks like along the last curve to the final parking area, taken from where I parked (my truck is out of frame to the right). If you look to the left through the trees, you can see the Jeep I mentioned. #2 (IMG_009 is a close up of the conditions at the last parking area, where the Jeep is (obviously). #3 (IMG_0099) shows where I pulled off. Also note that just beyond the Jeep to the left, there‘s a trail that goes into the Aspen. I have no idea where it goes. I assume it meets up with the Elbert trail, but it is not the official trailhead. Keep walking up the 4wd road past the final parking area for about 1/5 a mile to get to the 4wd trailhead. vdavidoff  3       
2013-01-27 Approx 4 in of new snow on top of the hard pack snow made this a dicey drive up to the 4wd TH. The descent was quite spooky- stayed in 4WLow the entire time to let the engine do all the breaking. Any touch of the breaks caused immediate sliding. FatBaxter         
2013-01-19 The 4WD trailhead is still accessible by stock 4WD vehicles, which is a rarity in Jan! Kevin Baker         
2013-01-10 I parked at the lower trailhead and walked from there. I really think I could have chained up my ‘06 Honda Civic and driven to the upper trailhead parking lot at 10,400‘. The big holes on the 4WD road are filled in, the one stream crossing is frozen solid, and somebody drove a Honda CRV to 10,400‘ on Wednesday, 1/9/13. markf         
2012-12-24 I parked at the lower trailhead this morning and skinned up to the upper TH, and then over to the South Elbert Trail and roughly half-way from there to treeline. I could have done all that and probably the remainder of the way to the summit with just boots. The road would have been driveable to the upper TH with 4WD. The snow cover is thin and skiis were not the best choice. schrund    1    
2012-12-08 We made it to the upper trailhead without an issue in my 4Runner. Apart from a small stream crossing and some trace amounts of snow, the road was dry all the way up. stiby52         
2012-10-14 Not affected by Saturday‘s (10/13) snow storm at all. Completely dry to the 4WD trail head. smoove         
2012-08-24 I took the East ridge route up Elbert this past Tuesday. My Subaru Forester made it all the way up to the 4WD trailhead. A Chevy Impala was going slow on the road and turned around just past the creek crossing. The creek was very shallow. After the creek, was the worst part of the road and I would probably not go past that in a car, but there are plenty of spots on the road to pull off and park. Every vehicle parked at the 4WD trailhead was an SUV or truck. I saw an Outback parked just before the creek crossing. Adventure Seeker         
2012-07-30 We made it up to the upper TH in my 2005 Subaru Forester. No problems whatsoever on the 4WD portion. I echo others in saying that this probably shouldn‘t be rated a 4 anymore, it seems like someone‘s done maintenance to make it much more passable. sjverhaeghe08         
2012-07-28 The trailhead was easily handled by our Subaru Outback. It was a little rough in spots, but any passenger car could make it if you are careful. robmulcahey         

The main (2WD) trailhead, with Elbert in the distance. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2007-01-17)The start of the 4WD road leading to the upper trailhead (closed in winter). (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2007-01-17)TH and end of the 4WD road (Added by: billmiddlebrook on 2007-05-25)Start of the trail (Added by: billmiddlebrook on 2007-05-25)stream crossing (Added by: rwilson on 2007-08-17)

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