Mt. Elbert (South) Trailhead


Road Difficulty

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.

Driving 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 it's 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 there's a rough patch on the road but most 4WD vehicles should be able to get past it. Near 1.5 miles there's a very rough patch that will stop most vehicles. If you can't drive past this point, there's 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.
Status Updates 
Posted By: jerky1280
Info: The 4wd road was passable by my AWD CRV this morning. If you are familiar with driving on poor dirt roads this type of vehicle is fine. A creek runs across the road; while it looks scary, it’s easily passable by almost any vehicle and only a foot or two deep.
Posted By: mtn_girl
Info: Can drive all the way up to the 4WD TH.
Posted By: jchapell
Info: Drove within 100 feet of the summer 4WD TH in a stock 2005 4runner with no bottom scrapes, and relatively easygoing overall. There’s a pretty rough section about .5 miles in, and then a stream crossing at 1.5 miles. Virtually no snow on the road on this date, but would think twice about it if it was rainy.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Now able to drive to within 200 yards of the upper TH in a high clearance 4wd. There is a large tree down & blocking the very last section of the road.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: The 4WD road from the lower TH starts out dry but has still only been driven on for about .2 miles. Some sections are melted down to dirt further on. There is a big pool of water in the middle of the road. See picture.
Posted By: Hoot
Info: As of MLK weekend, there’s a nice big snowshoe trench from the parking area all the way up to tree line.
Posted By: Brian Thomas
Info: Low water at the creek crossing and the rest of the road to upper TH is 100% dry.
Posted By: eagle06
Info: No problems in a stock Tacoma. A Subaru made it up too.
Posted By: alpinenut
Info: No snow. Only saw 4wd SUVs Trucks and Jeep at upper trailhead. Not sure it’s Subaruable due to big dips and humps in road. I wouldn’t but I’be never owned one. Creek crossing seemed about 6" deep.
Posted By: Danger_D
Info: The 4WD road we free of snow all the way until the upper trailhead. Those bumps/mounds are pretty large, but my RAV4 did just fine
Posted By: chrislwillers
Info: As previous poster mentioned, large mounds that I wouldn’t want to drive a long car over for fear of hitting the bottom pretty hard. There are also some spots where some solid tire placement is required or you could get a little wonky. Creek was about 6" yesterday when I drove through. Also, an FYI, if you follow the GPS coordinates with a Garmin to the 4WD trailhead as listed in Roach’s book, it’ll make you turn left up a fairly steep road instead of turning right into the parking lot. I started to go up before I realized my error.
Posted By: merrion13
Info: Road has several large berms/mounds that might catch something with a long wheelbase, but otherwise doable in stock SUV. There was a Crosstrek at the end of it. Creek crossing is only 3 inches deep at worst.
Posted By: hokiehead
Info: 4WD road is Subaruable to the TH. Note the comments below about the creek crossing, which is not mentioned in the TH description. Other than that, road is clear and dry.
Posted By: Zmacchi
Info: 4WD road accessible all the way to the Upper South TH. Kinda muddy but it didn’t affect my Cherokee.
Posted By: lrosenmayer6
Info: Made it all the way up, across the creek crossing and to the 4WD trailhead at 10,400’ in a Subaru Outback. Road was completely dry going up at 5AM and pretty muddy coming down at 3PM. I think anybody with high clearance and 4WD could make it all the way to the 4WD trailhead by now.
Posted By: Quinny15
Info: Winter TH clear and 4WD road is passable to about 1.5 miles/10,200‘ just shy of the summer TH in a Subaru Outback. Road is great in early morning, but melted out by noon which wasn‘t a problem going down, may be a problem to get traction coming up though. Parking was fine in some snow before the creek crossing and an icy uphill that I did not want to push the car up. Easy walk on the road from there. Almost bottomed out once on the road going up and had a few instances of one wheel in the air.
Posted By: kayleenann8
Info: We parked at the lower 2WD trailhead to be safe. The roads to the 2WD are all totally clear and dry.

We walked up the 4WD road to the trail head for Elbert -- the 4WD road is mostly dry with the occasional wet pot hole. There was snow at the trail head though.
Posted By: Brian Thomas
Info: From the 2WD TH to the creek crossing, it is a mix of mud and snow. A Toyota 4-Runner made it to just below there. After the creek crossing it is 99% snow.
Posted By: jrs1965
Info: Made it up to about 200 yards before the upper trailhead in my stock Ram 1500 (4x4). At 10,400 the trail was still snow covered and I was slipping getting up the last steep grade so I backed out. Parked about 200 yards below that point at 10,200. If there’s no new snow and it’s warm this week getting up to the upper trailhead might be possible. Not recommended unless you’ve got skills and the gear to do a self recovery!
Posted By: JQDivide
Info: Snow covered. Park at 2wd TH. There were some tire tracks for the first 1/4 mile or so, but they turned back. There were older tire tracks maybe for a 1/2 mile, but only boot and skin tracks after that.
Posted By: coriverdude
Info: Road is in good shape, well maintained and not as rocky as I thought it would be. The water bars between the 2WD trailhead and 4WD trailhead do require clearance. Had to scoot my frame over one, but otherwise had no problem in a stock 2004 Tacoma. Beautiful drive actually, and lots of parking near the 4WD trailhead. I only wish I had been there when the aspens were changing -- that alone would have been worth the drive!
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Still clear and good to the upper 4WD trail head. Very nice for October! It would be easy to scrape or high-center on this road. The most torn up part of the road is at the very end.
Posted By: nursemmy
Info: Made it to 4WD trailhead in a stock 2015 Tundra TRD. Lightly scraped the bottom a couple of times.
Posted By: Sches3344
Info: Drove to top of 4 wheel drive TH in Ram 1500 Pickup. High clearance needed, hit running boards a few times. 4 wheel drive not necessary, just clearance. Creek crossing no issue. Pretty campsites along road, all but one unoccupied. Beautiful sunset driving out.
Posted By: Brian Thomas
Info: 100% snow free today.

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