Mt. Massive (14,421′)

I’ve hiked up Mt. Massive four times now and it is a truly stunning mountain. Not only is Mt. Massive the second highest 14ers in Colorado, but its central position in the Sawatch Range provides for incredible view in all directions. There are two primary routes up Mt. Massive; each of which I’ve done twice now: the East slopes (standard route) and the Southwest slopes. The East Slopes are 14.5 mile with 4,500′ of gain, while the Southwest slopes are 7.5 miles with 3,950′. As these figures reflect, the southwest route wastes little time and is very steep. Both trailheads are accessed via County Road 11 to Halfmoon Creek, which is also home to the trailhead for the standard Northeast Ridge route for Mt. Elbert (14,433′). It should also be noted that Halfmoon Creek is a very popular camping area as it has both formal campgrounds and dispersed camping available.

While there are a lot of options in Halfmoon Creek, this post with focus on climbing the southwest slopes of Mt. Massive from the N. Halfmoon Creek Trailhead. This trailhead is about two miles further up the road from the main Mt. Massive trailhead. I’ve camped in pullouts along the road a few times now and it was peaceful with brilliant star-gazing. Finding the trailhead is pretty simple, but the road is pretty rocky and is a 4WD road. The worst section of the road is the final half mile right after you pass the junction with Forest Road 110J. There is a rough, rocky section where I’ve turned around or stopped twice, which you may not want to mess with. I did go all the way up to the trailhead a few years ago though in the same vehicle, so it just depends on the year and your comfort. I saw lots of people turn around at this point on my most recent visit.

Since the southwest slopes route is well-marked and has a great trail, I’ll just drop some pictures now. The first set is from a few weeks ago (September 2018), while the second set is from October 2016.

September 2018

Early sunlight, edited for brightness.
Looking across at Mt. Elbert
Looking over at Mt. Oklahoma
Another pano
4th time on the Mt. Massive summit!
Looking down at Leadville
Mt. Oklahoma from the summit
Mt. Elbert on the way back down!
Scott running on the way down.

October 2016

Mt. Elbert on the left
Mt. Elbert early on
More Mt. Elbert
More Mt. Elbert
Mt. Oklahoma and friends
Hudson and Mt. Oklahoma
DJ and Hudson
Looking down the ridge
Now with people
Hudson contemplating the meaning of life


DJ, Hudson, and I
Mt. Oklahoma
Mt. Oklahoma
Bonus photo