Hiking Mount Massive: A Gigantic Colorado 14er
Mt Massive is appropriately named – it has more area above 14,000 feet than any other peak in the lower 48! It’s just across the valley from Mt Elbert, the tallest peak in Colorado, and takes second place for height by a few feet. I recommend taking two days to hike Mount Massive, with a overnight stay at one of the creek crossings on its southeast slope. Here’s everything you need to know to ascend this summit, in my Mt Massive Route Guide.
Hiking Mount Massive: Fast Facts
Mt Massive Route Guide
Hiking Mount Massive is a fantastic route to hike. This Mt Massive route guide begins at the trailhead. Once parked at the parking lot, start your climb up the ridge. Start early as this lot fills quickly during the summer. You’ll soon take a hard left, passing over the ridge to your side, and begin walking along the East Slopes. There are several creek crossing, each has campsites for dispersed camping if you’re doing this as an overnight.
Once you pass the creek crossing, watch for a turn off from the trail to the left. After a half mile, you’ll finally pass treeline and see South Massive to your left and Mt Massive to the right. Work your way up, continuing hiking Mount Massive
Your next goal is to hike up the steep Pt 12400. The hill is covered in willows but features a good, sturdy trail.
Once beyond the point, you see the road ahead of you. Your aim is the saddle between South Massive and Mt Massive. The route will become more rocky as you go, transitioning from grassy meadows to rocky terrain. At the saddle, you’ll take a right to head up the summit ridge.
The rocky summit ridge features some great Class 2 scrambling. You’ll pass several times from the east side of the ridge back to the west, and then back. Stick to the main trail, and be careful to avoid social trails that lead you off-track. Eventually you’ll come upon the final few feet before you step up to the summit!
Looking for more information on this route? Visit 14ers.com. I hope my Mt Massive Route Guide helped you out! Good luck hiking Mount Massive, and safe travels on the trail!
Every good mountaineer should have a topographical map with them – it’s a key part of any Mt Massive Route Guide. I recommend downloading a digital copy of this map on your phone and printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronic copy.
Besides reading this Mt Massive Route Guide, you should check the weather forecast before you go. It’s an important task before hiking Mount Massive. Here’s a dependable weather source.
Hiking Mount Massive is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Hiking Mount Massive is an objectively dangerous route. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own rosk.
Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.