Mt. Elbert to Mount Massive and finishing at the Fish Hatchery

Segment Overview: Elbert to Massive + Fish Hatchery
Segment Overview: Elbert to Massive + Fish Hatchery
Segment Profile: Elbert to Massive + Fish Hatchery
Segment Profile: Elbert to Massive + Fish Hatchery

Nolans Line

The final push!

From the summit of Mt. Elbert, descend a shallow ridge northwest towards FR 110.J/Iron Mike 4WD road. This ridge features some of the loosest rock of the entire route, so be especially carefully not to step on something less than solid. It’s also incredibly direct: from the summit of Elbert, you will descend over 3,000′ in 1.12 miles.

The final push down to the trees turns into a scree ski, where you may lose sight of your entire foot. Make your way through the small patch of trees towards the road. Leave the off-trail parts of the route behind for good. Follow 110.J/Iron Mike north towards FSR 110. Take FSR 110 west towards the North Halfmoon Creek trailhead. Take the Southwest Slopes route up Mount Massive and summit!

From the summit of Mountain Massive, take a shallow ridge northeast down towards your final destination: the Leadville Fish Hatchery. The ridge will kink north for a while, then go back northeast. Stay on the shallow ridge, down through treeline, aiming for a small twin lake you may be able to find through the trees. The Highline Trail is found just to the north of the lake. Wrap around this lake, find the trail, and take it east.

The Highline Trail will cross over the Colorado Trail, continue east. The trail will then converge with the Rock Creek Trail and turn generally north. Continue on the trail, following the signs for the fish hatchery. Our track goes off trail for a small distance, to follow the canal itself to the trailhead. Soon, the trailhead itself will appear. You’ve completed the line!

Slow-lans Alt.

Elbert’s West Ridge is very direct, but very loose and not the most pleasant. Our alt. takes the standard Northest Ridge route – one of the tamest Class 1 trails on any 14er. But, once you’ve committed to this alt. down Elbert, you might as well then take the also excellent East Slopes route up Mount Massive, rather than taking the Southwest Slopes.

On your descent, this trail up Mt. Elbert junctions into the Colorado Trail. Take the Colorado Trail north. Once almost at the trailhead for the Northwest Route, you’ll come to another trail junction that allows you to continue on the Colorado Trail, rather than going to the trailhead/parking lot specifically for Mt. Elbert. Take this left fork north to continue on the Colorado Trail. The trail will cross the FSR 110 road. Cross the road and continue on the Colorado Trail – the trailhead at the other side of the road also serves as the start of the East Slopes Route. The trail to the East Slopes will break off from the Colorado Trail in a few miles. Take this trail junction west for the East Slopes Route. Summit Mount Massive.

To descend, reverse course down the East Slopes route to the Colorado Trail. Take the Colorado Trail north this time, until it crosses the Highline Trail. Turn right on the Highline Trail heading east. The trail will then converge with the Rock Creek Trail and turn generally north. Continue on the trail, following the signs for the fish hatchery. Our track goes off trail for a small distance, to follow the canal itself to the trailhead. Soon, the trailhead itself will appear. You’ve completed the line!

Water

  • 110J/Iron Mike parallels South Halfmoon Creek, which you will be descending after getting off the West Ridge of Mt. Elbert
  • Halfmoon Creek
  • North Halfmoon Creek is close by the Southwest Slopes trail up Mount Massive
  • Water is plentiful off the Highline Trail, started at the small Twin Lake
  • Water can be found at the trailhead for the fish hatchery.

Camping

  • Along 110J/Iron Mike
  • Along FSR 110, including at the Massive Southwest Slopes trailhead

Bailing/Resupply

From the summit of Mt. Elbert, descend the standard Northeast Ridge trail down to the Mt. Elbert trailhead. Continue to Mount Massive via either the Southwest Slopes or East Slopes Route.

Skipping

Take the Slow-lans Alt down Mt. Elbert, and continue north towards Mount Massive. Don’t take the trail fork left up the East Slopes of Mount Massive, but rather continue north on the Colorado Trail to the Highline Trail.

Turn right on the Highline Trail heading east. The trail will converge with the Rock Creek Trail and turn generally north. Continue on the trail, following the signs for the fish hatchery. Our track goes off trail for a small distance, to follow the canal itself to the trailhead. Soon, the trailhead itself will appear.

Next: Additional Resources


Slow-lans Guide Navigation:

This guide is currently being written and is far from complete. Receive updates on this guide, as well as the rest of the site by subscribing with your email address: