Peak(s):  Silverheels, Mt  -  13,822 feet
Date Posted:  10/17/2017
Modified:  10/19/2017
Date Climbed:   10/15/2017
Author:  JQDivide
 South Ridge of Silverheels  

A group of seven of us hiked the South Ridge of Silverheels in October 2017.
Why the South Ridge...it's shorter and much more enjoyable than having to even set a toe on Hoosier Ridge again. See that TR here.

It was a sunny fall day, but was a bit windy at times. Overall an enjoyable stroll up the South Ridge... I'd call it Class 1, except there is no trail at times. So an easy Class 2. The lower trail is an old dirt road. From there it's grassy slopes with occasional rocky slopes until the summit area which is mostly rocks/talus. It took us about 5 hours round trip with a distance of about 6.8 miles.

From Fairplay travel up County Road 659 to County Road 655. Just under 6 miles from Hwy 285, you'll take a right and cross a creek. Need a standard clearance 4x4 to get through. (Would be interested to know if it gets deeper in the spring or after rains?) The road up to this point is 2wd friendly. There is plenty of space to park low-clearance vehicles at the creek crossing.

Cross the creek, then travel about a mile until there is a left turn that is "blocked." You can park here at the makeshift TH, which is near 11,100. The road continues on, but turns back south.

From here, hike the old road as it winds up the slope until it meets another old road. Turn left, north. REMEMBER this spot, because it will be easy to walk right by here on the way down.
There was a small cairn and some logs on the road to mark it. But the road you just walked up kind of fades out before it connects to this road, which is one reason you can miss it on the way down (a couple people in our group did that.) You can see most of the road/trail route via Google Earth.

Follow the road north through some cool trees and out of treeline, until you come to the first "bump." Hike up the bump to 12,220 and continue north. There is rock windbreak on the far end. (On the way back, two people walked around the south side of this bump instead of going up and over it.)

From the wind break you can see the remainder of the hike, that point you see to the north is the summit of Silverheels.

We dropped off the north end of the bump and continued toward the summit, but did not go directly to the "South Ridge." We aimed toward the north end of the South Ridge which had a slight saddle (13,000) before the final push to the summit. At times there is a trail, but will fade away. We saw a few cairns along the way, but in reality you really don't need them, just walk toward the summit.

About 100 feet below the summit there is a large "pyramid" shaped cairn.

There's not much more to say, so here are a lot of photos that show the route.

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Map For Hwy 285 to Creek Crossing: Google Earth/Maps

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Creek Crossing to TH: Google Earth/Maps

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Lower Trail follows old roads

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Trailhead area, blocked old road. Plenty of space to parks vehicles


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Old road comes out of some trees and slopes up

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After the old road junction and trees

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Looking back...

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Heading to 12,200 bump

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12,200 bump, there was a slight trail but didn't realize it until I was on it.

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On 12,200 bump

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On 12,200 bump

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Windbreak on 12,200 bump


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Heading north, down bump

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Looking back


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One of the few cairns and trail sections

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Heading toward north end of "South Ridge"

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Heading toward north end of "South Ridge"


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13,000 saddle

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13,000 saddle

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Summit getting closer

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Pyramid Cairn 100 feet below summit

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Summit

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View from Summit

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View from Summit

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Heading down

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Heading down: 13,000 saddle

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Cool tree area and view of Summit

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Cool trees

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Heading down after road junction

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Heading down after road junction



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 32 33 34 35 36


 Comments or Questions
XterraRob

Great pics!
10/18/2017 20:44


Tornadoman

Winter Access
10/18/2017 22:34
Great pictures of a lesser climbed route. Silverheels is near the top of my list for this winter, and this does look more fun than the Hoosier ridge route. I wonder how far down the road is closed in the snowy months?


rpdawes

RT distance
10/19/2017 09:37
How long is the RT distance?


JQDivide

rt distance
10/19/2017 14:04
RPDawes... maybe 7ish miles? took us about 5 hours.
I'll see if anyone did a GPS track.

They said it was about 6.8 miles.


Chicago Transplant

Nice work, and stats
10/19/2017 14:07
Nice TR! Fun route, brings back memories from one of my first late fall hikes in Colorado!

I did this route a long time ago (2004), but put up a route for it on SP so had some stats I can add for you. I had the RT from the creek crossing at 9 miles with 3400 vertical. The upper TH JQDivide used would make his route 7 miles and 3000 vert.

The winter closure is 2 miles below the creek crossing, so 13 RT in winter, but not sure of the extra vert in winter. There was a closure gate about 1/4 above the nordic center.


JQDivide

Thanks
10/19/2017 14:29
Thanks for the added info!


rpdawes

Thanks for the reply!
10/20/2017 14:44
Hope to hit the trail soon.


Trotter

aha
10/25/2017 22:37
I've done silverheels from hoosier, and we wondered why someone built that windbreak at 12200 out in the middle of nowhere.



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