Mt. Massive - East Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||4,500 feet|
|RT Length:||14.50 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Massive|
|County Sheriff:||Lake: 719-486-1249
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Mount Massive|
From U.S. 24 just south of Leadville, turn onto Colorado 300 and cross the railroad tracks. Drive 0.7 mile and turn left onto County Road 11 toward the Halfmoon Creek. After another 1.2 miles, turn right on the dirt road to Halfmoon Creek. Drive on the good dirt road (except for the usual washboard and potholes) for 5.3 miles to the Mt. Massive parking area on the right.
Leave the parking area and begin hiking up the Colorado/Mt. Massive trail - Photo #1. Cross South Willow Creek (Photo #2) after 2 miles and continue another mile before crossing Willow Creek (Photo #3), at 11,000'. Both of these crossings are fairly easy unless the rocks are submerged or icy. Continue northwest up a hill and to reach a trail junction at 11,300' - Photo #4. Turn left onto the Mt. Massive Trail. Hike approx. 1/4 mile up a hill and through some small clearings to reach 11,600' where the terrain flattens out and you can finally see portions of Massive ahead - Photo #5.
Continue to 11,800', zigzag through willows and ascend Point 12,466' -Photo #6 and Photo #7. Reach easier ground near 12,400' where most of the remaining route is now in view to the west - Photo #8. With 2 miles remaining, the summit is still a long way off. Your next goal is to reach the saddle between "South Massive" and the summit ridge. Continue up the excellent trail as you gradually gain ground and eliminate distance - Photo #9. Keep hauling to reach the 13,900-foot saddle ( 39.18166° N, -106.47253° W) - Photo #10, Photo #11 and Photo #12.
Turn right at the saddle and follow a small trail up toward the summit ridge - Photo #13, Photo #14and Photo #15. The exact line to the ridge depends on snow conditions and/or route finding along the broken trail. Near the ridge, reach a notch and signed (hopefully) trail junction. This is where the Southwest Slopes trail comes up from the south. Photo #16 looks back at the trail junction. Past the junction, stay right of the ridge crest and weave up through the rocks (Photo #17 and Photo #18) to reach easier terrain on the ridge crest near 14,300' - Photo #19 and Photo #20. Gain a false summit where you can finally see the summit - Photo #21. Drop to the left, continue to a saddle (Photo #22) and follow the faint trail over to the top ( 39.187298° N, -106.475548° W). From the summit, Photo #23 looks back on the summit ridge.
This is the "standard" route on Massive, but the alternate Southwest Slopes Route has increased in popularity recently because it's shorter and the trail was greatly improved in 2007. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mount Massive Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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