ElevationAscent: 3,857' 1,176 m
Descent: -3,857' -1,175 m
High: 14,395' 4,388 m
Low: 10,538' 3,212 m
GradeAvg Grade: 20% (11°)
Max Grade: 70% (35°)
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“A steep but quick run up Colorado's second highest peak.”— Tyler Prince
Average hikers should allow about 6 hrs. round trip.
Start up North Halfmoon Lakes Trail on an excellent, gradual trail with few rocks or roots. In about 1.5 miles weave along the creek to your left and through some willows before coming to a junction with the Mt. Massive/North Halfmoon Trail. Turn right and run up some steep rocks and out of the trees at 11,300 ft.
Head to the right through the boulder field and continue up a steep but excellent dirt trail, coming to a second boulder field around 11,700 ft. The trail here becomes harder to follow. Again, stay to the right, this time exiting at about 12,000 ft. Turn left around a large rock pile at 12,300, continuing up excellent trail. At 12,900 ft the grade becomes extremely steep as you continue along a set of switchbacks.
From here the trail becomes rocky as well. Stay to the left to avoid climbing one of Massive's offshoot summits instead of its highest point. Come to a notch at 14,000 ft, staying just to the right of the rocks making up the summit ridge. Continue up Mt. Massive Trail along the rocky ridge, traversing the various points and false summits of the massif. After a short class 2+ scramble along an obvious summit ridge, the incline flattens out. Walk along a rocky path until you finally reach the summit. Your last 0.5 miles will be above 14,000 ft.
Many runners may feel they're cheating unless they also summit South Massive, North Massive, and Massive Green. This makes for a long day, so if you're one of these gluttons for punishment, be prepared!
During the Great Depression some rather zealous surveyors got into it over whether Mt. Massive or Mt. Elbert was the highest peak in the state. This led Mt. Massive supporters to start building tall cairns on the summit, only for Mt. Elbert proponents to promptly demolish them.
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