| Mt. Sherman (Fourmile Creek Trailhead)
To reach the Fourmile Trailhead from Denver, merge onto I-70 west and take exit 260/CO-470 E towards Colorado Springs. Head south on this road for about 6 miles, and then exit onto US-285 S towards Fairplay. Stay on this road and it will lead straight into Fairplay. Drive through Fairplay and head south for about a mile, where you’ll turn right onto County Road 18.
This paved road quickly turns to dirt, but is remarkably well-groomed. Drive a little over 10 miles to reach a large parking area at 11,250 feet in elevation, called the Leavick site. The road begins to get a bit rougher from here, but most passenger vehicles can drive the next 1.5 miles to reach the gate at 12,000 feet.
Pass through this gate and continue onward up the well-marked trail. At 12,300 feet, reach the Dauntless Mine area. The buildings are really neat to look at, but it would be a bit dangerous to actually enter the buildings. At 12,500 feet, turn right and continue hiking up the main road. Considering that this area was an active mine site for many decades, there are several roads leading to various places in this area; pay attention and make sure you follow the main road or your hike will be more difficult than necessary. Nat and I learned that the hard way…
Mt. Sherman quickly comes into view. Continue following this road past several desiccated mine buildings. The road winds its way north towards Mt. Sherman and will traverse past the Hilltop Mine. At 12,800 feet, turn left and cross by the Hilltop Mine. Keep following the well-marked trail, which winds its way westward to the Sheridan-Sherman saddle. The trail becomes a bit rougher here, as you’ll traverse sections of talus. Follow the cairns up to the saddle. The saddle lies at about 13,200 feet, and scenic views abound in all directions. Turn right to continue up Mt. Sherman’s southern slope.
There are two well-defined trails leading to Sherman’s summit. The trail to the right is less steep, but is a bit longer than the steeper trail to the left. I recommend taking the steeper trail; as long as you take it slowly, it’s really not too difficult. At 13,400 feet, the trail becomes more defined as you reach the ridge crest. For the next few hundred feet of elevation gain, easy trail gradually ascends.
At around 13,600 feet, the ridge narrows and the trail becomes rougher with loose rock. In addition, the trail passes over several bumps in the ridge similar to ridge “shoulders.” Be patient and mind your footing in this area. When Nat and I hiked this route, there were patches of snow along the ridge. While hard and compact during the morning hours, this snow quickly becomes slippery as it warms in the late morning sunshine. So again, just mind your footing. Once at the top of the ridge, traverse a mostly flat swath of trail to reach the true summit.
The summit views are absolutely spectacular to behold! You can see almost half of the 14ers from this vantage point, including Mt. Antero, the Collegiates, Grays and Torreys, Pikes Peak, and the Marroon Bells. There were several large snow patches when we made this ascent, but all were easily avoidable on the hike.
As with other 14ers, the UV Index is high so be sure to bring some sunscreen. I neglected to put sunscreen on, resulting in a really red tomato face the next day! Also be sure to bring at least 32 ounces of water and some snacks for the summit. Warmer pants and at least a hoodie are mandatory items to retain warmth on the summit, and that’s only for a dry, summer/early autumn hike.
This would be a perfect first 14er! The trail itself isn’t too long, and there are no technical sections on this trail. The mines are also pretty neat to see! There is a lot of talus up high, but it’s nothing a person in decent shape can’t handle. This is a Class 2 climb with mild exposure close to the route on the ridge, but exposure areas can be easily avoided with some careful footing. This is the 45th highest peak in Colorado.
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