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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Leadville Ranger District

Quick Facts

Black Cloud Trail

Beginning Elevation: 9,700 Feet (3023.7 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate to More Difficult
Elevation: 9,700 Feet (3023.7 Meters)
Elevation Gain: 4,733 Feet (1475.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 14,433 Feet (4499.1 Meters)
Length, Round Trip: 10 Miles (16.67 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 127 Aspen, Independence Pass
USGS Maps: Mt. Massive, Mt. Elbert

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail is an alternative route to the more heavily used North and South Mount Elbert Trails for climbing Colorado's highest peak. This is a moderate to strenuous day hike with an elevation gain of 4,713 feet. Be aware of changing weather conditions on mountain peaks and prepare for them. This trail passes through spruce-fir and aspen stands, then through some rock beds to ruins of mining operations and cabins. Continuing your hike will bring you to timberline and eventually Mount Elbert (14,433). For those who don't wish to climb the peak, there are many excellent views from various points along the trail.

Directions from Leadville: From Leadville travel south on US Hwy. 24 (approx. 15 miles) to the junction of CO Hwy. 82. Travel west towards Independence Pass for about 10 miles. Just west of the Twin Peaks Campground watch for a small Black Cloud sign. The trail climbs north following the Black Cloud Creek.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: May through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail at high elevations.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My name is Ron. I am from Dallas. I attempted to summit the peak on Oct.11,00. Being a flatlander and 43 years old I found it to be quite difficult to cope with the altitude and the steepness of the trail in spots but did quite well. There was no snow on the mountain at all which suprised me this late in the year and it was a beautiful day until i neared the summit. I made it to within 400 yards of the summit and then all of a sudden the wind hit in my estimate 70 to 80 mph. I was on the ridgeline and could taste the summit. I had to lay flat to the ground for 20 mins. for fear of being blown off. When the wind subsided enough to stand and walk again I experienced altitude problems with lightheadedness and disoriented feelings and then it began to snow moderately and was begining to cover up the trail so I aborted the attempt. Also i have never seen it snow...snowballs, literally snowballs the size of a quarter....they bursted opon impact..this was not hail or sleet it was soft snowballs...I know this sounds weird but it's true and I have some great pictures to prove it. I started at 7 am. and returned to the trailhead at 7 pm...right at dusk. For anyone thinking about this climb I recommend it but be prepared for rapidly changing weather and it's cold near the top..so gear down with the proper atire and bring plenty of water and snacks and don't go solo as I did. By the way the old minning cabin at around 12,000ft. has burned down but the outhouse is still intact. One last comment...respect this mountain and the trail and use common sense and you won't regret this hike, it's well worth the effort. Thanks.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Black Cloud Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Black Cloud Trail

Related Activities
Colorado Trail (Halfmoon to Twin Lakes) - This segment of the Colorado Trail begins in the Halfmoon Drainage and continues for approximately 6 miles to the Lakeview Campground above Twin Lakes.

Colorado Trail (Twin Lakes to Clear Creek Rd.) - This segment of the Colorado Trail leads from Twin Lakes Reservoir to Clear Creek Road. It is a popular segment that is used by many runners training for the long-distance foot race the Leadville 100.

Echo Canyon Trail - This is a short but steep trail. Excellent opportunities for viewing high alpine scenery and wildlife.

La Plata Peak (north route) - La Plata is one of Colorado's peaks that reaches above 14,000 feet. At 14,336' it is Colorado's fifth highest peak.

Parry Peak Campground - Perry Peak Campground is located west of Twin Lakes Reservoir on Highway 82. Many recreation opportunities are accessible from this campground including fishing, canoeing, hiking, motorcycle riding, four-wheel driving and mountain biking.

Twin Peaks Campground - There are five Forest Service Campgrounds in the Twin Lakes area: Dexter, Lakeview, Parry Peak, Twin Peaks and White Star. Thirty-nine sites are available at Twin Peaks Campground on a first come, first serve basis,

More Information

Visitor Information:

Leadville Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 2015 North Poplar , Leadville, CO, 80461, Phone: 719-486-0749, Fax: 719-486-0928


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