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: Grover
Info: The road to the upper TH is in good shape. A 4x4 vehicle can make it all the way up there. No snow on the road, just a little mud in some spots, if any.
Posted By: Fr3ako
Info: You can now access the 4wd parking lot. There are still 1 or 2 snow patches on the road but that‘s pretty much it. 2 cars were parked there today and I wish I tried driving up.
Posted By: CO Native
Info: Road is plowed and clear to the 2wd trailhead. Impassable after that. Several vehicles attempted to try it but got no farther than a couple hundred feet up the four wheel drive road.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Its hard to drive past the lower parking lot now.
Either an ATV or very narrow vehicle put deep tracks on the road that don‘t align with normal wheel distances.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Only drove about .7 mile up from the lower parking lot. At this uphill section xterra was starting to high center/plow snow. The road has ‘drifted in" pretty well.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Drove up to the upper end of the 4wd road early in the morning, and back down late in the day. Some snow and mud on the road.
Posted By: Trotter
Info: The 4WD section of the road really doesn‘t require 4WD, but it does need a vehicle with decent clearance, as there are large humps built into the road to handle runoff. Short vehicles with good clearance will have no problems, such as SUVs.
The road does get rough during the last 100 yards, I would just pull off before then, there are several parking spots there.

Creek crossing water was maybe 6 inches deep.
Posted By: Beekman
Info: Road is dry and in great condition. We made it up in an F-150 crew-cab. The only hard part about this road is several "humps" that a a real challenge for a vehicle with a long wheel base. Any Jeep and most SUVs would have no problem, we even saw a van at the trail head (definitely would not recommend).

Due to the "humps" I did scrape my running boards twice, but I think with a little more careful navigation it could have been avoided.
Posted By: Tornadoman
Info: We made it to the upper trailhead in a Dodge Ram without putting it into 4WD. Clearance is the main concern and I would suspect that most 2WD pickups/SUVs with good clearance should be ok. There was even one passenger car at the upper trailhead, although I wouldn‘t have done it.
Posted By: Roxana
Info: This is a very easy road and any SUV or pickup should make it with no trouble. I made it all the way to the upper TH in a Blazer ZR2 (3" lift, 31" tires). There were no serious rough spots that I noticed. The creek was only a few inches deep. If you are familiar with ratings I would rate this road a 1.
Posted By: tyler32
Info: 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.
Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Snow moved up to treeline get it!
Posted By: gregpeak
Info: The road is now clear all the way to the 4WD trailhead
Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: 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!
Posted By: benglish
Info: Skied Elbert this morning. 2wd trailhead was bone dry. The road was 95% snow covered but melting out extremely quickly.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: 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.
Posted By: jack660
Info: 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.
Posted By: KTC88
Info: 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.
Posted By: alpinenut
Posted By: fahixson
Info: 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.
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: 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.
Posted By: shaberer0511
Info: 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.
Posted By: runaroundaroo
Info: 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.
Posted By: OscarMayerSweener
Info: Made it within 200 feet of the 4WD TH in my buddy‘s Mountaineer.
Posted By: GregMiller
Info: 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.

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