Mt Massive
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Mt. Massive - SW Slopes Route

A little free road building to get the Rav4 all the way up North Halfmoon Creek trailhead

Mt Massive from the east side, our route went around the back to the SW slopes

Steep SW slopes of Massive but a good trail with switchbacks all the way to the summit

Another view higher up, we came up the valley below from the left

The view looking up the slope

The last bit to the summit

Made it, another summit photo inside a ping pong ball

Mt. Massive - SW Slopes Route

Scramble: Class 2 – Steep Hiking

Altitude: 14,421 ft

Elevation Gain: 3,920 ft approx, N. Halfmoon TH 10,500ft, 6.5 miles approx return

Start Time: 5am to 8am to be on your way down by noon and avoid potential lightning storms

Ascent Time: 3 ˝ – 4 Hours SW Slopes

Highlights

This scramble is the second highest peak in Colorado. The SW Slopes route from the North Halfmoon Trailhead is a steep but superb route. The trail has been rebuilt and scenery is very appealing. Much preferred over the East Slopes route and its long 13.6 miles return trip.

Getting There

North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead – 10,500 ft – No restrooms

From U.S. 24 just south of Leadville, turn onto Colorado 300 and cross the railroad tracks. Drive 0.7 mile and turn left onto County Road 11 toward the Halfmoon Creek. After another 1.2 miles, turn right on the dirt road to Halfmoon Creek. Drive on the good dirt road (except for the usual washboard and potholes) for 5.3 miles to the Mt. Massive parking area on the right. Just past the Massive trailhead for the East Slopes route there is a sign for "high clearance vehicle required" for the 2.5 miles to the North Halfmoon trailhead. Drive another 2 miles on the now rugged, 4WD road to a small junction. Continue straight - do not turn left. If you have 4WD and good clearance, drive another 0.5 mile to the small, marked trailhead on the right.

The last half mile required Victoria and I to do some road building to get my 1998 Rav4 all the way to the trailhead. I have about 7 inches of clearance but did not want to take any chances on a couple of rocky sections 1/3 of a mile before the trailhead. Only took about half an hour to fill in a couple of spots with rocks. The alternative is to pull off prior to the last half mile. There are quite a few dispersed camping spots all along the first 2.0 miles of the high clearance road.

Camping

You can camp or sleep in your vehicle at the North Halfmoon trailhead. This is preferred as it is nice to get the 2.5 mile road out of the way the night before. The dirt road along Halfmoon Creek has a couple of forestry serviced campgrounds with restrooms ($11) as well as numerous dispersed camping spots if you want to tackle the 2.5 mile high clearance road in the morning. The Mt. Elbert and the regular Mt. Massive trailheads are close together and both have restrooms you can use if you go the dispersed camping route. The first 2.0 miles of the high clearance road also has numerous dispersed camping spots also. Seems to be a favorite area for the ATV or Quad crowd.

 

Route Description

Follow the good trail through the forest for approx 1.3 miles until you pass over a creek and enter into a meadow. A few hundred yards into the meadow you will hang a right on a small trail marked by a fairly sizable cairn. This is the trail up Mt. Massive’s SW slopes. This trail will steeply switchback up right to the summit giving increasingly good views of the rugged basins on the West side of Massive. Enjoy!