THanks Lynn for the mention in this great report on Elbert:
Forget Longs Peak or even Pikes Peak: The lesser-known Mount Elbert is Colorado's highest point at 14,433 feet above sea level.
Mountain climbers Matt Briscoe, 15, left, Tom Briscoe, 42, and Michael Briscoe, 12, sit on top of Mount Elbert, the second-highest point in the lower 48 states.
Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
The second-highest point in the lower 48 states, behind California's Mount Whitney (14,494 feet), Elbert is a peak bagger's delight. It is as little as a 4.5-mile one-way hike, only climbs 4,358 feet from the trailhead and is scaled too in the winter by experienced mountaineers, because its gentle slopes moderate avalanche dangers.
Located in the Sawatch Range, about 10 miles southwest of Leadville, Elbert isn't as impressive looking from below as its nearest neighbor, Mount Massive (Colorado's second highest at 14,421). However, on top is one of Colorado's best panoramas, and unlike Pikes Peak or Longs Peak — both on the Front Range — there's far less trace of civilization nearby.
"Fourteeners" (14,000-foot or taller mountains) are common in the Centennial State. There are 53 Fourteeners in Colorado, none in Utah. (For comparison purposes, Utah's tallest summit, Kings Peak, is more than 900 feet shorter at 13,538.)
But despite the abundance of impressive peaks, "Wow" is still a common adjective heard among hikers who reach Elbert's summit.
Dozens of people a day reach the summit in the summer, with about half coming from the two longer routes: Black Cloud Trail (5.5 miles, one-way) or the South Trail (6.2 miles, one-way). There are also two other more obscure paths to the summit.
Ideal hiking time is June through the end of September. The only potentially disappointing factors in the hike would be stormy weather or getting "psyched-out" by the several false summits.
With the treeline in central Colorado in the 12,000-foot elevation range, surprisingly the first third of the hike up is through pine and aspen forest. The trail is well-defined, though one of the steepest sections before the summit does have an ample supply of loose rock — worse on the downhill return.