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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    
2010-06-07 The road is washed out and impassible at the stream crossing. The stream bed has been diverted and is flowing down the road for about 100 feet. awillson         
2010-05-22 The 4wd road is clear and dry all the way to the 4wd trailhead. gregpeak         
2010-05-14 Mad it as far as the water crossing in 2WD 4-runner. 4" of snow made for a pretty sloppy drive out the next morning but still passable. jonesdcu         
2010-05-09 The road to the 4x4 TH is passable now. The trees mentioned in Aubrey‘s post are gone and there is no snow on the road. It was a little muddy near the end but nothing serious. EatinHardtack         
2010-05-02 As of 5/2/10, the 4x4 road was dry and passable for about the first 1.25 miles. At that point it‘s blocked by a large tree that was chewed down by a beaver. It‘s too heavy to lift and it couldn‘t be pulled out of the way with a tow strap because it‘s "locked" in the trees. A chainsaw will definitely be required to remove it. If you have a chainsaw and you make it past that obstacle, there‘s a pretty icy stream that you‘d need to contend with a little farther up. And if you made it past that, there‘s one more fallen tree in the way (which would be easy to pull out of the way with a strap) ... and then some snow drifts closer to the summer trailhead parking area. I imagine the snow will melt off soon, but mud still might be an issue for some vehicles. Less than a couple hundred feet before the first fallen tree, there are at least three parking spots next to the beaver pond. It‘s a short and easy (albeit muddy) hike to the parking area ... and I think it only gains about 300 feet of vertical. (Posted 3 images of the first fallen tree and a shot of the icy creek.) Aubrey  4       
2010-03-06 Clear to the paved parking lot, impassable except by sled beyond that. Bean         
2009-12-05 Passable in high clearance 2WD on Saturday 12/5/09. sunday brought snow, so things may have changed. sgladbach         
2009-11-20 See Elbert TR for 11-18-09. Few icy spots on paved 2wd road. Icy spots but 30% brown ground on 4wd road to TH. One stream crossing on 4wd rd below TH that is a large mostly frozen puddle -- ice is thick enough to walk across. We didn‘t drive the 4wd road but a couple hundred yards, then pulled off and walked. From what we saw, suspect it could be driven. Bring chains just in case for the ice. Dancesatmoonrise         
2009-09-27 Open and dry all the way---dry trail to tree line then snow dusting giarcd         
2009-06-26 6/23/09 4wd trailhead kinda muddy and lots of mosquitos plenty of places to park in between aspens on a small loop trail head begins at wooden sigh, creek crossing to Continental Divide trail break off to the left after 1/4 mile to South Elbert TH. there is an old wooden sigh at that intersection. HD Producer         
2009-05-03 Cleared to the 4WD trailhead geno71         
2009-03-14 dirt road from the paved parking area is drivable about 1/4 mile. After that the snow drifts deeply in places. Packed down well for hiking, but not for driving. mtnmike         
2009-02-08 The upper trailhead is not passable by vehicle traffic. 4HClimber         
2008-11-09 4Wd road is passible to the trailhead. I took the road 3/4 of the way until the large strem crossing. The stream has a thin layer of ice so I decided to turn off and not chance it. I am sure my vehicle (Honda Pilot) would have made it though. 3 inches of snow does make the road a little slick. Gary Brady         
2008-07-08 Road is passable all the way to the trailhead IF you have a high-clearance vehicle. There is a HUGE set of two sinkholes immediately after the 0.5mi mark on 125.1B. Definitely do-able if you take the time or if you have a shorter-wheel base vehicle. I saw a stock Suburban at the trailhead, but I ripped off a mudflap on my Z-71 Truck. Oops. After that, the road is dry, with one stream crossing. azureabyss         
2008-05-12 Broke through several snowbanks about .75 mile up the 4WD road and then towed some trees out of the road so 4WD vehicles can now drive 1.0 mile to the intersection where the road turns left. In about a week, you might be able to drive a bit further to a camping area on the left where it‘s flat, but the last 1/2 mile of the road still has plenty of snow on it. BillMiddlebrook         
2007-06-24 The trailhead is clear up to approx 1.4 miles. A small stream is there and it looks passable. 5 4WD cars had decided to try it and made it. Denvergriz         
2007-06-15 Made it up fine in a mod. Cherokee. Saw a few Liberty's all the way up, though. No snow whatsoever. pvnisher         
2007-05-24 Clear to the upper (4WD) trailhead. A few muddy spots, but nothing major. This is a 4WD road and has some rocky sections. Good-clearance 4WD recommended. billmiddlebrook         
2007-03-12 as of 3.10, 2WD parking is clear & dry. 4WD trail is melting down fast and was accessible to vehicles for about 1/2 mile in. mtnmike         
2006-05-29 Free and clear. Made it to the 4WD parking in a stock 4runner with no problems. I would not take a small SUV on the 4WD section. jeffkoski         
2005-06-27 6-22-05: The 4WD road to the trailhead is completely snow-free. This road seemed a little rougher than a few years ago, but I was fine with a Ford Explorer. There is one fairly deep water crossing with a steep exit that might stop a smaller vehicle, but a good mid-size SUV should be fine. sisyphus         
2005-02-18 The South Mt. Elbert trailhead (125.1B road) requires 4WD in summer. In winter the road is closed and there is 2WD parking near the start. BillMiddlebrook         

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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