Hiking Mount Sniktau | Free 13er Route Guide
Hiking Mount Sniktau is a great choice for those new to Colorado and the mountains. Just a 90-minute drive away from Denver, Mount Snkitau was the planned location for most of the alpine events for the 1976 WinterOlympics… before Denver turned it down. The peak is a very easy hike, with significantly less elevation gain than most fourteeners, and less than four miles in length. It’s a perfect warm up hike for the first day of your trip, or as a training hike for bigger ascents later on. Here’s what you need to know about safely hiking Mount Sniktau.
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Hiking Mount Sniktau | Fast Facts
Hiking Mount Sniktau via the Southwest Ridge Route
You’ll start hiking Mount Sniktau from the Loveland Pass parking area, which requires driving up a series of steep switchbacks. Get there early if going on the weekend or you will not get a spot. From the lot, head up the well-worn trail heading east towards Mount Sniktau. You’ll first aim for a point at 12,915 a mile ahead of you.
After hitting the point, take a left (north) to continue up the southwest ridge. Do not follow hikers going right (south) as they’re probably climbing a more difficult peak, Grizzly or Torreys Peak. Head towards another bump which is a false summit – at 13,152 feet.
Hike through a short rocky section to reach the false summit. You can now see the remaining route to reach the true peak’s summit. Keep hiking and drop about 250 feet to reach the saddle before you ascend for another quarter mile to reach the summit.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! A good sandwich and summit beer goes a long way at 13,000 feet. Ensure you head back with plenty of time to reach your car before summer afternoon thunderstorms arrive and you become a target. Good luck hiking Mount Sniktau and safe travels on the trail.
This topographical map is an essential resource for hiking Mount Sniktau. I recommend that you download it on your phone and also print out a paper backup copy in case you run out of batteries or something happens to your phone while hiking.
It is very important to check the weather forecast before hiking Mount Sniktau. Because there is significant variability between different sources, I recommend checking both of these two sources to get a full and accurate idea of what to expect for your hike.
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:
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.
- The Ten Essentials: Key gear to help you stay alive if something goes wrong.
- Hiking boots with good traction and ankle support.
- A backpack to store your food, water, and emergency supplies.
- Trekking poles to provide extra stability and support.
- Snacks to keep you going while hiking Mount Sniktau
- Maps or Route Guides for the Mount Sniktau area.
- A personal locator beacon in case anything happens to you and you need help.
- Water: I recommend 2 liters of water per person.
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.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
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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 is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located 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. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.