Mt. Massive via CDT
ElevationAscent: 4,400' 1,341 m
Descent: -4,400' -1,341 m
High: 14,403' 4,390 m
Low: 10,078' 3,072 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 46% (25°)
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“A long but "easy" route up the 2nd highest peak in Colorado.”— Karl W
Begin by heading north on the well marked and maintained CDT: Halfmoon Creek to Timberline Lake (CO Sec. 24). This is the easiest part of the trail as it slowly gains about 1,000 feet of elevation over 3 miles through forest. There are a few meadows along the way that break up the forest a bit, but for the most part you'll only see trees along this stretch. At about 2.25 miles you'll cross South Willow Creek which can be dry. In just over another half mile you'll cross Willow Creek. Keep an eye out for the Mt. Massive Trail shortly thereafter - it'll be on your left.
Begin up Mt. Massive Trail. The first half mile will be similar to the CDT through forests, but after that the trees thin out as you gain elevation, and within a mile you'll be above treeline. You'll be above treeline all the way to the summit and back to here, so keep a keen eye on changes in the weather - you don't want to get caught in a thunderstorm. The trail basically follows a ridge for the next 1.5 miles from tree line (to about the 5th mile total) that steadily climbs without obstacles. After this the trail follows the bowl between the South Peak and the main summit and gets steeper. However, it only reaches class two - this is a "walkable" mountain.
You'll hit the shoulder between the South Peak and the main summit. Turn north (right) to follow the remaining ridge to the summit. If you follow the trail you should not encounter anything over basic class 2 along this last stretch. Spend some time at the top enjoying some of the best views of Elbert and the entire Swatch and Mosquito Ranges before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.
Note, there are routes to many of the five other 14,000+ foot peaks on the Massive massif, if you want to spend some more time. The most accessible on this route would be the route to the southern peak, which you'll pass at the shoulder.
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