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Hiking Mount Shavano

Hiking Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak | 14er Route Info

Mount Shavano is the southernmost Sawatch Range 14er. Along with its twin to the west, Tabeguache Peak, it anchors this massive mountain range. Mt Shavano is also home to one of the state’s most famous snow climbs, a snow field known as the Angel of Shavano due to its lady-like figure. Those hiking Mount Shavano in the late spring or early summer will see this special snow formation. Start planning your trip to these two excellent 14ers with my free route guide below.

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Hiking Mount Shavano: Fast Facts

TAKE CARE & STAY SAFE!

You are responsible for your own safety in the backcountry.

These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear. 

Hiking Mount Shavano - East Slopes Route

From the Mt Shavano Trailhead, also called the Blank Gulch Trailhead, begin your hike along the well-marked trail. You’ll head through a dense forest with gentle slopes for the first 2 miles. Around 0.1 miles into the hike, reach a junction and take a right onto the Colorado Trail. After another half mile, reach another junction and take a left onto the Mt Shavano trail.

Turn 1 - Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak Trail Colorado Trail portion of route Cross the cattle guard Fall colors along the Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak trail Second Turn along the trail Follow the Mt Shavano Trail

After 1.5 miles, pass over a small ridge and drop into the central valley that contains the Angel of Shavano further up, which is a large snowfield that lasts into mid-summer. 2 miles into the hike, take a sharp right to ascend the ridge to your right through several broad switchbacks.

Great trail on the Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak route Looking over the valley Near the treeline on Mt Shavano

3 miles into your hike, you will leave the tree line and follow a long, straight section along the side of the valley. The trail will steepen dramatically as it crosses over to the left up to the saddle below Mt Shavano at 13,400 feet. This is a good spot to pause for a snack and water while checking the skies and weather before continuing. The most challenging section is yet to come.

Leaving treeline on Mt Shavano Rocky trails on Mt Shavano Looking back on the route Nearing the saddle with snow The saddle and Mt Shavano ahead

From the saddle, follow the cairns and the Class 2 talus slopes leading to the summit. The hike from the saddle to the summit is a steep climb of about 900 feet in only 0.8 miles. There are multiple social trails; the best to follow trends to the left and then gradually climbs back to the right across to the east side of the peak. From there, climb along to the summit ridge over boulders until you reach the highest spot, a mid-size boulder at 14,231 feet.

To continue to Tabeguache Peak, continue following the summit ridge, taking the path of least resistance and dropping to the right a bit where necessary. It is possible to follow the ridge itself without exceeding class 2 difficulty. Reach the saddle at 13,715 feet. 

Continue across the saddle and look for cairned trail segments and ledges to follow up the broad ridge. Stick to the right to find a gentler slope and better established trail. Make it over one or two false summits to reach the true summit and enjoy the views.

Descend the same way you came up. Return to the saddle and then back up the ridge to the summit of Mt Shavano. Trying to skirt the summit is time-consuming and not worth the effort. From the summit, descend via the trail down to the saddle, back to the tree line. Continue to the Colorado Trail junction (take a right) and then to the offshoot junction (take a left) to reach the trailhead.

 

Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak Map

Carry a topographic route map and compass with you during your hike. I recommend saving a copy of this map on your phone and bringing a backup paper copy (phones break, screens shatter, and batteries die). Take time to catch up your navigation skills before you go.

Weather conditions in the Rocky Mountains are incredibly variable. It is important to check the forecast several times in the days leading up to your climb to know what is coming, how variable the forecast is, and how to prepare accordingly. Here are several dependable sources for weather info to use before hiking Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak.

Mountain Forecast for Mt Shavano

NOAA Forecast for Mt Shavano

Open Summit Weather App – Mount Shavano

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The Mount Shavano Trailhead can be reached by most 2WD passenger vehicles. In the spring months, 4WD is helpful for some of the more difficult sections.

DIRECTIONS TO THE MOUNT SHAVANO TRAILHEAD:

On U.S. 285, one mile north of the U.S. 50 and U.S. 285 junction near Poncha Springs, turn west on County Road (CR) 140. This turn is about 21 miles south of Buena Vista, and across the highway from the entrance to the Salida airport. On CR 140, drive 1.7 miles and turn right on CR 250. Drive 0.8 to reach dirt road and reset your trip odometer.
 
Drive 3.2 miles to a “Y” junction. Stay left on FR 252 and continue to another small junction, near a cattle guard, at ~6.2 miles. Cross the cattle guard and drive a bit farther to reach the Shavano and Tabeguache trailhead (also referred to as the Blank Trailhead after a local prospector).

When I hike 14ers like Mount Shavano, I always wear hiking boots rather than shoes or sneakers. They provide better traction and ankle support for tough scrambles like you’ll find while hiking Mount Shavano. Here are my top hiking boot recommendations.

You should always bring the ten essentials with you on your trip (see the infographic below). To carry them all, bring a backpack with 20-30 liters capacity. These are several good backpack options that won’t break the bank. 

While trekking poles are not a necessity on this mountain, I use them myself as they offer many benefits and make hiking easier. If you want a pair, I share my personal favorites here

Don’t forget to bring 2 liters of water, and a good bit of snacks and food for the trail. Learn more about packing for a 14er here.

Camping near Mount Shavano:

There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along the road leading to the trailhead ideal for those hiking Mount Shavano. There are more spots if you continue along the road beyond the trailhead. Note that camping is not allowed at the trailhead. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Lodging near Mount Shavano:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Salida and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking Mount Shavano.

Help keep Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak pristine by following these Leave No Trace practices while hiking Mount Shavano. 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 Shavano! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

Hiking Mount Shavano 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.

Coming Soon!

FAQs

Q: How long does it take to hike Mount Shavano?

A: The time required to hike Mount Shavano can vary based on individual fitness levels, weather conditions, and specific routes chosen. Generally speaking, a round-trip hike can take between 7 to 9 hours for most hikers. It’s essential to account for the time you may spend at the summit and possible breaks during the ascent and descent. Starting early is always advisable to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, which are common in the Colorado mountains.

A: Mt Shavano is classified as a Class 2 hike. This classification means that while the trail is mostly well-defined, there are sections where hand-over-foot scrambling may be necessary. A Class 2 designation also suggests that the route will have a more challenging and steep terrain compared to a Class 1 hike. It is crucial to be prepared with appropriate footwear and gear, as well as a good understanding of your personal limits.

A: Mt Shavano has an elevation of 14,231 feet above sea level. It ranks as the 17th highest peak among Colorado’s 58 fourteeners. As with any high-altitude hike, it’s essential to be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and to acclimatize appropriately before your climb.

A: Shavano is pronounced as “Sha-VAY-no.” It’s named after a Ute Chief, so the name carries significant historical and cultural importance in the region.

A: Hiking both Shavano and Tabeguache Peak in one outing is a common endeavor, thanks to their close proximity. A round-trip hike to summit both peaks can generally take 8 to 11 hours, depending on various factors like pace, weather, and trail conditions. Again, starting early in the day is strongly advised to avoid potential afternoon thunderstorms.

A: Yes, Tabeguache Peak is considered a Colorado fourteener with an elevation of 14,155 feet. It ranks as the 26th highest peak among Colorado’s 58 fourteeners. However, it’s worth noting that Tabeguache Peak is often overshadowed by its more popular neighbor, Mt Shavano, and is usually hiked in conjunction with it.

A: Tabeguache is pronounced as “TAB-uh-wash.” The name is derived from a Native American tribe affiliated with the Ute Nation, and like Shavano, it has historical and cultural significance in Colorado.

A: Tabeguache Peak has an elevation of 14,155 feet above sea level. Although it is slightly lower than Mt Shavano, it still offers stunning panoramic views and serves as an excellent extension for those looking to summit multiple fourteeners in a single outing.

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Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr 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.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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