Mt Audubon Route Guide | A Popular Front Range 13er

Nestled in the Indian Peaks region of the Front Range, Mt Audubon is the perfect way to spend your first visit to the area. This broad mountain is known for wide expanses of tundra rather than dramatic cliffs or exposure. It’s a gentle hike for most of the route, with a short scramble to reach the summit peak. From there you’ll enjoy outstanding views of the surrounding peaks to the north and south. Plan your visit with this Mt Audubon Route Guide.

New to 13ers? Check Out my Beginners Guide Here to Get Started!

Mt Audubon Fast Facts

Mt Audubon Route Guide - North Slopes

Starting off from 10,500 feet, the trail begins in thick evergreen forecasts. This is a busy trail due to its accessibility; you won’t be alone. As you reach tree line around 10,900 feet, you’ll take a series of switchbacks up on to the apline tundra proper. 

Remember to stay on trail from this point onward, as the tundra is extremely fragile and takes centuries to recover trampling. 1.7 miles in, the trail will split. Follow the left option to continue on towards the summit of Mt Audubon.

After another 1-2 miles hiking along the tundra, you’ll have one more difficult section of switchbacks through a section of rocks. As you approach a saddle, watch for a cairn marking the point for you to turn left and begin your summit push.

As the cairn, turn left and begin to scramble up the final boulder field to reach the summit. This will require a bit of scrambling. There is a loose trail, marked by cairns, to follow as you get higher on the mountain. You can also watch for others to follow – you won’t be alone.

Once you reach the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! A summit beer or sandwich are never a bad idea. You should ensure you head back to the trailhead with enough time to be back below tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you found my Mt Audubon Route Guide helpful and informative.

Loveland Pass has a main parking lot, along with several smaller pull off areas further below along the road. These lots fill very quickly on summer weekends. Go early if you want to secure a spot.

DIRECTIONS TO THE MOUNT SNIKTAU TRAILHEAD:

Take I-70 W to US-6 W in Clear Creek County. Take exit 216 from I-70 W. Follow US-6 W up to the top of Loveland Pass and park in one of the lots. From there it is easy to start hiking Mount Sniktau.
 
Note: If the lot is full do not park along the road or idle and wait for a spot to open. You create a traffic hazard and may be ticketed.

The right gear will make your time hiking Mount Sniktau more enjoyable and reduce the risk that something goes wrong. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you on this trip.

Camping near Mount Sniktau:

There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along forest roads in the area, including some along Montezuma Road further beyond Loveland Pass.

Lodging near Mount Sniktau:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Silver Plume, Georgetown, and Silverthorne for those hiking Mount Sniktau.

Help protect this beautiful area by following these Leave No Trace practices while hiking Mount Sniktau. This includes:

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck hiking Mount Sniktau! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

The mountain got its name from the pen name of Edwin H. N. Patterson, a journalist in the Clear Creek County area during the 1860s. He was a prominent member of the community and a close friend of the famous poet Edgar Allen Poe – the two regularly exchanged letters. 

Patterson claimed to have been given the nickname “Sniktau” indigenous people, however it more likely was adopted from another  journalist named W. F. Watkins, who had reversed the letters of his own name to create the pen name “Sniktaw.

Mount Sniktau and Loveland Ski Area were originally proposed to be developed as the alpine ski venues for the 1976 Denver Winter Olympics. However the bid was rejected by voters and so the development never occurred.

Today, those hiking Mount Sniktau can see many developed ski areas in the vicinity of the mountain, including Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Breckenridge (to name a few).

Hiking Mount Sniktau is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Mount Sniktau is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger.

Visit these summits at your own risk.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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