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Explore Colorado: Climbing Mt. Elbert

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Colorado’s fourteen thousand foot peaks are known as 14ers.  Hiking them is a very popular summer and early fall activity.  One of the most popular 14ers is Mount Elbert.  At 14,440’, it is the highest peak in Colorado.  It’s also the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, including Canadian peaks. 

The Mount Elbert Northeast Trail is nine miles round trip with an elevation gain of 4700 feet.  The trail is extremely well marked.  The hardest part of the trail is 13,300’ to 13,900’, where you reach the false summit.  From there it’s a fairly easy climb to the summit.

As with any 14er, start hiking early, even before daybreak, to summit by noon.  The weather can change quickly on a 14er and storms are likely on summer afternoons.  Depending on your speed, the northeast trail could take you 6-10 hours round trip.

Make a weekend of your Mount Elbert hike and stay in Leadville or Twin Lakes.  The Mount Elbert Lodge and Cabins in Twin Lakes are rustic and you will truly get a chance to get away from it all there.  In Leadville, enjoy the many shops and restaurants along Harrison Avenue, which is the town’s main street.  Pick up some hiking clothes at Melanzana.  They are handmade in Leadville.  Fuel up at Showdown Mountain Bistro or High Mountain Pies.  Grab some sweet treats at Cookies with Altitude.