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A great loop around Mount Elbert.


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Map Key

14.5

Miles

23.3

KM

70%

Runnable

14,407' 4,391 m

High

10,075' 3,071 m

Low

4,913' 1,497 m

Up

4,920' 1,500 m

Down

13%

Avg Grade (7°)

95%

Max Grade (44°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Overview

This is a counterclockwise loop, getting the hard part over first, followed by 9-ish miles of downhills and flats. The views are worth the effort and crowds.

Need to Know

The trail going down is officially called the S Mt Elbert Trail (#1481) - according to the sign at the bottom, but there is no sign at the top. I have also seen it referenced as the East Trail on AllTrails.

Runner Notes

I am a middle-of-the-pack east coast trail runner, rarely getting over 5,000' in elevation. I was pretty conservative dealing with the altitude and coming off an injury (and stopped to take lots of pictures), and it took me just under 5 hours to complete the loop. Locals can no doubt take at least an hour off that.
The North Mount Elbert Trail was by far the most crowded of the three trails. I only saw about five people on the South Mount Elbert Trail #1481, and three on the Colorado Trail.

Description

The first five miles (North Trail) is all uphill. It is well-marked and starts at the Mt. Elbert Trailhead. It goes for about a mile on the Colorado Trail, then turns right on the Mt Elbert North Trail. You spend a little over another mile in the trees, where the trail is in good shape and isn't that technical (at least compared to trails in the east).

Above the tree line is an exposed section for about another mile with a lot of grass and brush. The trail is in good shape here and isn't too technical. The last section gets very steep and is very rocky. Going up it was ok, but I can see how going down that part would be challenging.

Don't forget to look behind you periodically after you emerge from the tree line. There are some fabulous views.

The second five miles (South Trail) is all down. From the top, go back (north), maybe 100 meters, and you'll see an unmarked trail to the right. Take that. The terrain and trail conditions match the North Trail, except the top section isn't as steep or technical as it is on the North Trail. There was some maintenance and a few minor reroutes in the grassy section (July 2020). The views looking towards Twin Lakes and Leadville are awesome.

The last four or so miles of the Colorado Trail/Continental Divide Trail are pretty flat. The trail is all below the treeline, in great shape, and most of it was pretty fast (again, compared to East Coast trails).

Contacts

Shared By:

John Main

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#4

in Leadville

#1319

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Leadville

#257

in Colorado

#1,319

Overall
7 Views Last Month
1,760 Since Jul 28, 2020
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

The final cairn!
Dec 12, 2019 near Leadvil…, CO
Approximately 13,800' up, less than a mile from the summit!
Dec 9, 2019 near Leadvil…, CO
Sunrise on Mount Elbert in July.
Jan 21, 2022 near Leadvil…, CO
Panorama of summit.
Jul 10, 2016 near Leadvil…, CO
Summit view, Mt Elbert Colorado
Feb 16, 2015 near Leadvil…, CO
Western Red Columbine. 10,500 along the North Mount Elbert Trail.
Aug 8, 2019 near Leadvil…, CO

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