Trail Report - Mount Massive - Southwest Slopes - Colorado

August 13, 2020

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

Showing Small Pictures    

Trail Report - Mount Massive - Southwest Slopes - Colorado
8.4 Miles Round Trip
4010 feet of elevation gain
Summit Elevation - 14,421'
Date Climbed: August 13, 2020
Climbers: Paul

Mount Massive From Route 24

Mount Massive! - The second tallest peak in Colorado, and the 3rd highest in the lower 48 was a fun day. This mountain is very near the tallest in Colorado, Mt. Elbert, both mountains in the northern part of the Sawatch Range in central Colorado.

As always, if possible, I like to consider non-standard routes as I feel they are typically more remote / secluded which is always fun. The Southwest Slopes route up massive seemed fun as it is shorter but much steeper than the standard route, and there seemed to be some rugged, rocky terrain towards the top to have fun with.

The trail from the N. Halfmoon Creek trailhead winds through some wooded areas and meadows. Once the views begin to open up, the first mountain you see is 13er Oklahoma Peak. Once a little further up the trail, you can look back and see Elbert and 13er French Mountain. There is an intersection where you turn right (vs staying straight towards Oklahoma Peak) ... and this is where the steepness begins.

Mount Massive Trailhead Sign

Steepness Sign About Massive

Graphic Of Southwest Slopes Route

Beautiful Scenery On Mount Massive Trail

Mount Oklahoma From Mount Massive Trail

Because there is so much vertical distance to cover in such a short time, this trail is pretty relentless... up, up, up. It so happened I had only been in Colorado a day and a half (from Maryland) so my acclimatitazion was still in it's infancy. Indeed it was a bit painful continuing up. But as always, the beautiful Colorado scenery takes your mind away from any pain as you can't believe how lucky you are to be in such a beautiful place.

After some switchbacks get you high on the mountain, you begin to see some rugged rocky outcroppings that are really cool. You end up skirting one of these outcroppings to where you meet with the standard trail up Mount Massive. From there it is just a ridge hop over to the summit!

Beautiful Scenery On Mount Massive Trail

Trail Continues Up Steep Slope

View Of Elbert And French Mtn

Happy To Be On The Mount Massive Trail

A look at the Southwest Slopes trail on Mount Massive:

Hey There Marmot

Views Open Up On Mount Massive

More Views Open Up On Mount Massive

Great Views Of Elbert From Higher Up

Looking East From High Up Mount Massive

Nice Trail Segment High On Mount Massive

Rugged Terrain Near The Top Of Mount Massive

More Rugged Terrain Near The Top Of Mount Massive

Beautiful Elk Range 14ers In The Distance

It was windy on the summit this day but with otherwise beautiful weather. I stayed for a while, traded taking some photos, and chatted with some folks enjoying the summit. The views down into the valley near Leadville were amazing as were the ones to the west all the way to the Elk Range (where the Maroon Bells live).

Near The Summit Of Mount Massive

One Last Pitch To The Summit Of Mount Massive

The Summit Of Mount Massive

View To The East From The Summit Of Mount Massive

View To The North From The Summit Of Mount Massive

Stoked To Be On The Summit Of Mount Massive

Scenery From The Summit Of Mount Massive

The Summit of Mount Massive:

Cutie Pika On Way Out Of Mount Massive

This is a great hike for folks just getting into 14ers as there are no technical sections ... just class 1-2 hiking. But for sure the slog up the Southwest Slopes will condition you for long uphills you will face on these huge mountains. Tough but so rewarding!!

Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


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