Mt. Elbert & 14ers
The Leadville and Twin Lakes area is a great base camp from which to climb 14 of Colorado’s famed 14ers, starting with the state’s highest peak.
For a successful climb, please read and heed the safety and comfort tips below, and study your route before leaving.
Mt. Elbert is Colorado’s tallest mountain and the second-highest in the continental United States. How high is Mt. Elbert? Topo maps and general resources pinpoint it at 14,440′. The LIDAR readings from Dec. 2021 note 14,438′. Whether you claim the extra two feet or not, it’s a tall peak and a great workout!
From Leadville, it’s a pretty, symmetrical peak pointing to a perfect V. The Twin Lakes view shows its long, rocky ridge. Climb it from either side, and you’ll discover pine and aspen forests, open tundra with rocks and wildflowers, and unblocked views of peak after peak, deep into the wilderness of central Colorado.
Hike with Mountain Views: To experience Mt. Elbert in a less-airy fashion, hike or mountain bike the Colorado Trail across its lower reaches to find thick aspen groves and secluded beaver ponds. Wander the Upper Arkansas Valley between Leadville and Twin Lakes with your camera in hand. Stay on its flanks in a cabin, lodge, or campground near Twin Lakes. Or simply float on the lake and gaze up at the tip-top of Colorado.
Climb Mt. Elbert: Climbing Mt. Elbert means a great workout, stunning views, and a chance to breathe fresh, rarified air. It’s a non-technical climb, but no 14er is easy. Please read and heed the safety and comfort tips below, and study the routes below for a successful climb.
Mt. Massive may be Colorado’s second-highest peak, but it also has more land mass above 14,000′ than any other peak in the lower 48.
Climb to its chunky summit and enjoy plenty of rarified air. For a more mellow hike, take a trail from the Leadville National Fish Hatchery into the forested Mt. Massive Wilderness. You can make a loop or, a few miles in, hop on the Colorado Trail.
Just like to gaze? Check out the view while lounging at Turquoise Lake or on a patio in Leadville. Sunsets over Mt. Massive are spectacular, with front-row seats from high spots in Leadville’s East Side Mining District.
Mt. Sherman is one of the easier 14ers to climb–if any 14er is easy, that is. Sneak up Iowa Gulch, just 20 minutes outside Leadville, for a quiet climb to the ridge before meeting climbers ascending from the other side.
A no-frills hike, this trail up Mt. Sherman has an industrial feel, starting above treeline near power lines and old mine sites. You’ll trace a rocky ridgeline on top, with stupendous views off either side.
More 14ers Nearby
All these 14ers are within an hour’s drive:
- Huron Peak
- La Plata Peak, Southwest Ridge
- Missouri Mountain
- Mt. Antero
- Mt. Belford
- Mt. Columbia
- Mt. Harvard
- Mt. of the Holy Cross
- Mt. Oxford
- Mt. Princeton
- Mt. Yale
Safety and Comfort
Don’t forget to check the latest weather forecasts, peak conditions, trailhead status, and important safety information before hitting the trail. Make sure you have essential gear for your climb. Plan to start early, keep an eye on the weather, and be back to treeline ahead of afternoon storms.
To make you more comfortable and increase your chances for a successful summit, spend the night in Leadville or Twin Lakes to acclimatize, and spend the night after to celebrate and rest up.
Winter & Spring Trips
Visiting in winter or early spring? Please check our Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Resources and the current avalanche forecast before you head into the backcountry.
Care for Colorado!
- Check for Fire Restrictions — and Follow Them!
- Take Care with Fire
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
And please take our Adventure by Nature Pledge.
Thank you for helping to protect our forests and homes!