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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    
2011-04-30 Drove 1 mile up 4wd road with ~3" fresh snow in a Tundra. All had melted in the afternoon when I came down. Not too much further from where I parked, the snow on the road gets deeper and a fallen tree blocks access. alpenglow80         
2011-04-23 Road up to the TH was dry this morning, slushy/snowpacked this afternoon. I drove up the dirt road for I think .3 mile this morning, but decided to park back at the TH because of a Winter Storm Warning. Good thing I did. The dirt road was snowpacked on our way out. Probably a good 5-6" fell through the day with more on the way tonight and tomorrow. tmathews         
2011-01-29 Plowed road to the lower TH as normal. FYI for anyone that doesn‘t know, the 4wd trailhead is/has been closed till spring hollamby         
2010-11-27 Easily drove a Toyota Tundra about 1.2 miles up the 4WD road. After that, there was an SUV that got stuck trying to turn around before the road got worse (at about 1.3 miles). There is a nice pull-off parking spot for 3 vehicles just after 1.2 miles, I would recommend parking there as the snow got heavier after that point. mountainjam         
2010-11-20 Went to the top of the 4wd TH. Light amount of snow. There are several tricky sections. Was in a F150 with muds on it, wouldn‘t recommend this one for lower clearance 4wd‘s because of the two bad spots. You can drive up it and find parking spots along the way if the spots are to rough though. hollamby         
2010-11-13 The ranger said this was the only trailhead you could get to this time of year. Plus, it‘s the only path up elbert that people use in november so you‘d never find the trails on the other ones. At the 4wd trailhead there was a range rover and one of those small toyota trucks with the stock 4wd "TRD" set-up. I easily got my 2011 forester all the way to the creek that‘s about 1/8 mile away from the 4wd trailhead (the only creek on the 4wd trail) and didn‘t want to risk going over the creek so I parked at the spot right there. mikefromcraig         
2010-11-07 As of this morning, 4WD vehicles can make it all the way up the trail. However, this is probably going to change being there is days of snow in the forecast this week in Leadville. Dying2Live         
2010-08-10 This spring was tough on the 4WD road. 1.5 miles up, just before the stream crossing, there‘s a rough patch that will stop most vehicles. There‘s parking in several pull-offs below this point. Attached is a photo of the area in question and the stream crossing right after it. BillMiddlebrook  2  1    
2010-06-19 Runoff has calmed down, the stream is back in bed. There is some road damage just prior to the stream at about 1.5 miles. With an adequate vehicle and judicious driving, the road is passable the top. TooLoose_ToTrek         
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         

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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