Twin Lakes, Colorado
Mt Elbert Twin Lakes Reviews
Mt Elbert 14433 ft / 4400 m Jul 28, 2012
Mt Elbert is one of the 54 mountains that reach an elevation of at least 14000 feet (4267 meters)in Colorado. One good thing about hiking or climbing mountains in Colorado is that even the valleys in Colorado are high in elevation, so climbing to 14000 feet isn't as big an endeavor as it would be in other mountain ranges. The valley by Mt Elbert is already at 10050 ft elevation so you only have 4383 ft higher to go! Another fact about Colorado that makes it easy to hike here is that because of the latitude and local weather patterns you don't have as much snow to deal with in the summer as you would in northwest United States or the Alps for instance. In northern Colorado there are a few small glaciers and some permanent snowfields, but you usually don't have to deal with much snow from July through October in the rest of Colorado.
We started hiking Mt Elbert at about 6:30am. The trail from the base to the top is about 4.5 miles long. The elevation at the bottom is 10050 ft. For the first 2.5 miles it is pretty easy hiking through trees. Treeline in Colorado is about 11800 ft because of its southern latitude and weather patterns. After two miles we came out of the trees and had and a pretty easy hike for another.5 miles. Then it got a bit steeper. We had to stop quite a bit to catch our breath because of the elevation, but it wasn't to hard. We finally reached the top about 11:00. There were a lot of people at the top. One tip -as you come out of the treeline far ahead of you you'll see what looks like the summit...but it's not. That ridge is about 13800 ft elevation, but the top is not much farther.
The views were gorgeous. We ate lunch at the top, but the clouds were getting lower so we started back down after a few minutes. In Colorado there are public service warnings everywhere to get below tree line by 1:00pm in the summer when hiking, because there are thunderstorms almost every afternoon in the summer in Colorado. We had hiked down about a mile when suddenly it started to hail, and then the thunder and lightning started. Thunder is incredibly loud when the clouds are right above your head!! It boomed down the mountainside and echoed in the valleys. We ran down the mountain at that point. Lightning was all around us. I twisted my ankle at some point, but finally we made to the trees without being struck and we had a wet cold hike the rest of the way down.
I definitely recommend hiking any of the 14ers (14000 ft mountains) in Colorado. Some, like Mt Elbert, are hiking trails, and some mountains are more technical climbing -especially in the fall, winter , and spring. Mt Elbert requires no permits and can be done in a day.
Part of the Colorado travel blog
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