Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
3,950.00 ft (1,203.96 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
7.25 mi (11.67 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Mount Massive wears its name well, and you will understand why when you see it. This adventure will take you to the summit of the mountain that has the most surface area above 14,000 feet in all of Colorado. While Mount Elbert may be the highest mountain in Colorado, Mount Massive in undisputedly the most massive. The Southwest Slopes Trail is the shortest to the summit. It does require four-wheel drive or at least a vehicle with high clearance to reach the trailhead. If you lack a vehicle but still want to hike up this mountain, the longer and still-beautiful East Slopes Trail is your way to go.

Note that 14ers are attractive because of their high elevation, but remember you must take extra precautions if you hike that high. Weather can change fast, winds can be destabilizing, some people can experience altitude sickness, and thunderstorms in the afternoon are a common occurrence. Make sure to check the weather before going and get an early start. Having a turnaround time is also a good idea.

The trail initially follows North Halfmoon Creek. It gains a little over 1,000 feet of elevation, but it is barely noticeable as the grade is very gentle. After about 1.75 miles, the intersection with North Halfmoon Trail is reached. Turn right, leave the valley floor, and start the ascent to the summit ridge through a series of switchbacks.

The tree line is reached at about 12,100 feet. However, this trail has few trees, thus allowing great views most of the way. From that point, a mere 1.25 miles remain until getting to the summit ridge.

On the summit ridge, the trail will intersect with the East Slopes Trail. Look to the east to see its impressive track. A loop of the East Slopes Trail and Southwest Slopes Trail is perfectly possible, but requires two cars or about 3 miles of road walking.

From the intersection, 0.25 mile and little elevation remain before the summit. The ridge walk is nice and impressive in some areas as you descend to a small saddle and make your way up to the summit. Descend via the same trail. Don’t miss the right turn down the Southwest Slopes to avoid going down the East Slopes. The sign blends in well with the rock!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Excellent views througout. Short trail. Quiet.

Cons

High-clearance vehicle required.

Trailhead Elevation

10,500.00 ft (3,200.40 m)

Highest point

14,421.00 ft (4,395.52 m)

Net Elevation Gain

3,921.00 ft (1,195.12 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Gore + Mosquito Range, Colorado

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