Mt Elbert (14,433′)

Mt Elbert (14,433′)

Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the 3,000 mile long Rocky Mountains, a mountain chain which stretches from Canada to Mexico. Mount Elbert is also the second highest peak in the contiguous lower 48 states after 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in California.

StatsRoute DescriptionDirectionsNotes
  • Trailhead:       Black Cloud
  • Round trip:      11 miles / 17.7 km
  • Elevation:        9,700′-14,433′ (+4,733′) / 2,957m – 4,399m (+1,443m)

Black Cloud trail is the least traveled but the most beautiful way to summit Mt Elbert. This trail is an alternative route to the more heavily used North and South Mount Elbert Trails for climbing Colorado’s highest peak. This trail passes through spruce-fir and aspen stands, then through rock beds to ruins of mining operations and cabins. Continuing your hike will bring you to timberline, South Elbert,  and eventually Mount Elbert at 14,433 feet in elevation.

  • The trail is longer and steeper than the more popular trails
  • Mount Elbert is named for Samuel Hitt Elbert, the territorial governor of Colorado in 1873

GPS track

My track up Mt Elbert along the Black Cloud trail. The image is looking due North. The summit is not visible from this shot.

Black Cloud Trail
Black Cloud Trail

Pictures

  • Columbine along the Black Cloud trail

    Columbine along the Black Cloud trail

  • Looking back - Rinker Peak (13,789') in the middle and La Plata Peak (14,360') on the right

    Looking back - Rinker Peak (13,789') in the middle and La Plata Peak (14,360') on the right

  • Black Cloud trail - Rinker Peak (13,789') in the middle and La Plata Peak (14,360') on the right

    Black Cloud trail - Rinker Peak (13,789') in the middle and La Plata Peak (14,360') on the right

  • La Plata Peak from the Black Cloud trail

    La Plata Peak from the Black Cloud trail

  • La Plata Peak in the distance

    La Plata Peak in the distance

  • Above treeline

    Above treeline

  • Gaining the ridge - Twin Lakes on the left

    Gaining the ridge - Twin Lakes on the left

  • Heading to the summit with small wildflowers everywhere

    Heading to the summit with small wildflowers everywhere

  • Summit view from Mt Elbert

    Summit view from Mt Elbert

  • Mt Elbert summit view

    Mt Elbert summit view

  • Looking at the ridge I had come from. View of South Elbert

    Looking at the ridge I had come from. View of South Elbert

  • Heading down the South Elbert trail

    Heading down the South Elbert trail

  • Below treeline on the South Elbert trail

    Below treeline on the South Elbert trail

  • Hiking down the South Elbert trail - Twin Lakes in the background

    Hiking down the South Elbert trail - Twin Lakes in the background

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