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hiking Mount Sherman

Hiking Mount Sherman | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice

In the northern Colorado rocky mountains, there’s no easier 14er than hiking Mount Sherman. The southwest slopes route is short, provided you can drive all the way to the 12,000 foot parking area, for which I recommend a 4WD vehicle. You’ll pass amazing historic structures from the Colorado Mining Boom here, including the remains of a several kilometer-long aerial tram that carried ore from the mines high on the slopes down to the milling site below. Make sure you leave artifacts for others to find and enjoy. Here’s everything you need to know for hiking Mount Sherman.

Hiking Mount Sherman: 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 Sherman: Southwest Ridge

First time planning a 14er hike or climb? Start by reading the route description and reviewing the route map. You should use the weather forecasts to plan, along with my gear recommendations. Check the Trailhead info to ensure you know how to get there and have an appropriate vehicle. Stay nearby at one of the camping or lodging options below to acclimatize before your climb and reduce your risk of altitude sickness. Lastly, refresh your Leave No Trace and mountain safety knowledge to protect the peaks and yourself.

There is additional information about the peak, local regulations, plus additional resources and a frequently asked question section. Have a question? Leave a comment at the bottom of the route guide and we’ll reply ASAP with an answer. Cheers!





Mt Sherman Route Description

The route starts at the Fourmile Creek Trailhead, just west of Fairplay. If you had to park below 12,000 feet because you don’t have 4WD, continue up the road towards the closed gate. From the gate, head up the road toward the Dauntless Mine area ahead. Mt Sheridan is visible directly ahead of you, while Mt Sherman is hidden to the right.

At the Dauntless Mine, take a right into a series of flats. The Dauntless structures and other historic mining artifacts along the route are dangerous – don’t go exploring in them, and leave relics behind for others to find and enjoy too.

Zigzag your way through the flats section, aiming for the historic mining structures along the slopes of Mt Sherman. The trail here is still excellent and easy to follow.

Another set of switchbacks will take you up to the Mt Sherman – Mt Sheridan saddle from the mines. These trails are well-built and maintained – enjoy!

Once upon the saddle, take a right to start hiking up the southwest ridge of Mt Sherman. You can take one of two trail options to gain the ridge proper. The left route is less steep but longer than the more direct right route. I recommend the left route, as this is already one of the shortest 14er routes in Colorado. A few extra feet won’t hurt.

Once on the ridge itself, continue up the ridge, first on the right side, before crossing to the left around 13,500 feet to get around a few obstacles. The most difficult section of the route comes after 13,600 feet, where you’ll scramble around several rocky sections with steep drop-offs on either side. 

Once past this crux section, it’s just a last section of hiking Mount Sherman before gaining the broad, flat summit itself.

Once you’ve reached the peak, enjoy your accomplishment! Be sure you head down with plenty of time to reach the tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become an issue. I hope you found my Mt Sherman Route Guide helpful and informative.

Good luck hiking Mount Sherman, and safe travels on the trail!

Mt Sherman Route Map

CalTopo Map

This map shows the route and elevation using topographic contour lines. I recommend saving it on your phone and bringing a backup copy.

Elevation Profile

This elevation profile shows how much elevation you will gain and lose while hiking up and down Mt Sherman. There is also information about the slope angle, tree cover, and other details along the route.

Mount Sherman Elevation Profile

Current Conditions

Conditions on the 14ers vary considerably throughout the year. It’s a good idea to research the conditions before you go, especially during the spring and fall when snow is possible.

Where to Find Condition Reports

Each website allows users to post condition or trip reports with photos and descriptions of what they experienced while hiking Mt Sherman. Check them before you start making posts asking about conditions, or you may get scolded by accident.

Where to Ask About Recent Conditions

If you cannot find any recent condition or trip reports for Mt Sherman using any of the sources above, you can try posting on one of the social media groups or forums below to ask if anyone has been near the peak recently and can share some beta.

Weather Forecast

The National Weather Service forecast below for Mount Sherman provides everything you need to know to plan ahead for your climb. Additional weather forecast resources include Mountain Forecast.

Fourmile Creek Trailhead

GETTING THERE

Here’s how to reach the Fourmile Creek trailhead for Mt. Sherman, starting from Denver:

  1. Start in Denver – Get on I-25 S from your location in Denver.
  2. Continue on I-25 S to C-470 W – Follow I-25 S to C-470 W towards Grand Junction. Merge onto C-470 W.
  3. Drive on US-285 S – Use the right lanes to take the US-285 S exit toward Fairplay. Continue on US-285 S for about 50 miles.
  4. Turn left onto CO-9 S – In Fairplay, turn left onto CO-9 S/Main St and continue to follow CO-9 S.
  5. Right on Fourmile Creek Road (County Road 18) – After 14.7 miles, turn right onto County Road 18 (Fourmile Creek Road). There’s a sign for Fourmile Creek, and this road is also known as the Leavick Site.
  6. Follow Fourmile Creek Road – Stay on Fourmile Creek Road. The road turns into a dirt road suitable for most passenger vehicles under good conditions. Continue for about 10 miles to the trailhead.


The road can be rough, so a high-clearance vehicle is recommended, especially for the last few miles. Always check current road conditions and weather forecasts before heading out. This journey typically takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes but varies depending on weather.

Trailhead Amenities

This is an undeveloped trailhead. There are no bathrooms, trash bins, or drinking spouts available. Come prepared with everything you need. Cell phone signal is weak where present.

Learn more

14er Gear List

Climbing any of Colorado’s 14ers requires careful preparation and the right gear to ensure safety and enjoyment. Here’s a comprehensive gear list for those climbing Mount Sherman:

Essentials:
Optional Gear:
Winter Gear:
Clothing:
Footwear:
Communication:

Where To Stay

The area near Mount Sherman has great options for camping, motels, and airbnbs. Here are some of my recommended places to stay near the trailhead.

Where to Camp near Mt Sherman:

These are some of the closest campgrounds to the trailhead:


There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along forest roads near the trailhead ideal for those climbing Mount Sherman. Note that camping is not allowed at the trailhead. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Hotels and Lodging near Mt Sherman:

Here are some excellent motels and hotels near the trailhead:


There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Fairplay and the surrounding area, ideal for those climbing Mount Sherman.

Leave No Trace

When setting out to hike the Mt Sherman Trail, integrating Leave No Trace (LNT) principles is crucial for preserving the delicate alpine environment of this Colorado 14er.

The following section offers guidance on how to minimize your impact while enjoying the great outdoors:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Understand the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Check the weather forecast, and be aware of the terrain challenges you might face on Mt Sherman.
  • Preparation reduces the likelihood of resource damage and contributes to your safety.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on established trails and avoid cutting switchbacks, which can lead to erosion.
  • In the alpine tundra, plants take years to grow and mere seconds to be destroyed by trampling.
  • If camping is part of your trip, use designated campsites at lower elevations to minimize impact.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack out all your trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • It’s essential to carry a bag for collecting waste.
  • For human waste, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, trails, and camp. Cover and disguise it when finished.
  • Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past; examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning gear and boots before and after your hike.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts in the alpine environment.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a lantern for light.
  • If fires are permitted, use established fire rings, keep fires small, and burn all wood to ash.
  • Put out fires completely and scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Control pets on a leash at all times, or leave them at home.

Be Courteous to Others Outdoors

  • Respect other trail users and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Use headphones, not bluetooth speakers, and keep your noise down.
  • Give uphill hikers the right of way.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • If stopping, move off the trail to allow others to pass.

Incorporating these LNT principles into your Mount Sherman adventure is a commitment to conserving the mountain for future generations to experience and enjoy. By acting as stewards of the land, we can all contribute to the sustainability of the natural beauty that draws us to these heights.

Learn more by reviewing our complete Leave No Trace Guide for 14ers.

Safety Tips

Mount Sherman, standing tall at over 14,000 feet, offers a majestic experience but poses unique challenges. It is a very difficult class hike in rugged terrain, and people have been seriously injured there in recent years. 

Prioritize your safety with these essential tips:

  • Acclimate to Altitude: Spend a day or two at a lower elevation near Mt Sherman to get your body used to the altitude. Altitude sickness can be a serious concern and can strike regardless of fitness level.

  • Check the Weather: Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. Before you set out, check the local weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes. Start early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms common in the Rockies.

  • Stay Hydrated: At high altitudes, your body dehydrates faster. Carry plenty of water — a minimum of 2 to 3 liters per person — and drink regularly throughout your hike.

  • Research Your Route: Take time to review trip reports, route descriptions, maps, and photos to help you navigate in the field and know if you are on the right track.

  • Dress Appropriately: Layer your clothing to adapt to the variable conditions. Include a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating layer, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget a hat and gloves, even in summer.

  • Stay on the Trail: For your safety and the environment’s protection, stick to designated trails. Shortcuts can lead to erosion and habitat destruction and can also put you at risk of getting lost or injured.

  • Know Your Limits: The terrain on Mt Sherman can be challenging, with loose rocks and steep sections. If you’re not an experienced hiker or if you’re feeling unsure, consider hiring a guide or joining a group.

  • Emergency Plan: Have a plan in case of an emergency. Inform someone of your route and expected return time. Carry a whistle, a mirror, and a small first aid kit. A satellite messenger or personal locator beacon (PLB) is advised for remote areas where cell service is not reliable.

  • Bring a Buddy: Never hike alone. Use the buddy system to ensure safety. If one person gets injured or sick, the other can go for help.

  • Share Your Itinerary: Tell someone dependable back home that you are climbing Mt Sherman and share as much of your plans and itinerary as possible. Tell them you when you will check-in with them, and who to call if you fail to do so.

Respecting these safety guidelines will help ensure that your climb up Mount Sherman is memorable for all the right reasons. Stay alert, stay safe, and enjoy the grandeur of the Rockies. 

Learn more by reviewing our complete mountain safety guide.

Permits, Regulations & Guidelines

There are no permits or reservations required to hike Mt Sherman, however, parking can become difficult to find during busy summer weekends. Arrive early or the night before to secure a spot.

The route is located within the Pike National Forest.

Pike National Forest Rules

Most of the route falls on USFS land in Pike-San Isabel National Forest. Follow their land management guidelines to limit your negative impact on the land and protect public access for the future.

Audio Devices:

  • Use audio devices like radios or instruments without disturbing others.
  • Permits needed for public address systems in campsites or near water.

Business Activities:

  • All commercial activities require permits.

Campfires:

  • Follow fire restrictions. Build fires only in designated fire rings or stoves.
  • Always extinguish fires completely.

Camping:

  • Camping allowed in both developed and undeveloped sites with a 14-day limit.
  • Keep vehicles parked in established sites and close to main roads.
  • Day use areas open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fee Areas:

  • Pay fees for using certain developed sites and facilities.

Fireworks and Firearms:

  • No fireworks. Discharging firearms restricted near residences and developed areas.
  • Hunting allowed following state regulations.

General Prohibitions:

  • Permits required for activities like removing natural materials and erecting signs.
  • No geocaching in wilderness or historic areas. Comply with all FS regulations.

Operation of Vehicles:

  • Follow traffic laws. Use vehicles only on designated roads and do not block access.
  • Park only in designated areas.

Pets and Animals:

  • Keep pets restrained or on a leash. No pets in swimming areas.
  • Saddle or pack animals only where permitted.

Property:

  • Do not damage live trees, structures, or archaeological sites.
  • Respect private property within national forests.

Public Behavior:

  • Observe quiet hours from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Keep noise to a reasonable level.

Sanitation:

  • Dispose of garbage in designated containers. Do not litter.
  • Use toilets properly and keep water bodies clean.

Wilderness:

  • No motor vehicles or motorized equipment. Embrace the “Leave No Trace” philosophy.


These guidelines ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while preserving the natural beauty and integrity of the Pike National Forest.

About Mount Sherman

Here is information on the history of this fourteener, along with other interesting facts and details about the area and route.

History of Mt Sherman

Mount Sherman, a prominent peak in Colorado’s Mosquito Range, boasts a storied history that intertwines natural geology and human endeavor. Named after General William Tecumseh Sherman, a key figure in the American Civil War, the mountain’s elevation of 14,036 feet makes it one of Colorado’s fifty-eight 14ers—peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation.

The geological story of Mount Sherman began around 1.7 billion years ago during the Precambrian era, when intense geological forces formed the rocks that comprise the mountain today. The area is characterized by rich deposits of minerals, particularly silver and lead, which played a pivotal role in its human history.

The mining boom in the late 19th century marked the significant human interaction with Mount Sherman. The discovery of silver in Leadville in 1877 triggered a rush of prospectors to the area. The town of Leavick, now a ghost town, was established in the late 1800s and became a bustling hub for miners. The Hilltop Mine, located near the peak, was among the most productive in the area, extracting valuable ores well into the 20th century.

Mount Sherman’s accessibility made it a popular location not only for miners but also for early recreational climbers. The standard route, now a well-traveled path for modern hikers, likely follows trails originally carved by miners heading to their claims. The mountain’s relatively gentle slopes compared to other Colorado 14ers make it one of the easier climbs, attracting both novice and experienced mountaineers.

Fun Facts

Mount Sherman offers a wealth of interesting details that make it a unique destination among Colorado’s famous 14ers. Here are some fun facts about this notable peak:

  1. Historic Structures: The summit of Mount Sherman is dotted with remnants of its mining past, including old buildings and mining equipment. These relics provide a fascinating glimpse into the late 19th and early 20th-century silver mining boom in the area.

  2. Easiest 14er: Often considered one of the easiest 14ers to climb in Colorado, Mount Sherman’s standard route provides a relatively gentle ascent, which makes it a popular choice for first-time 14er climbers.

  3. Geological Diversity: The mountain is part of the Mosquito Range and is predominantly composed of quartz monzonite, which is a type of intrusive, igneous rock. This gives the landscape around Mount Sherman a distinctive appearance compared to other ranges in Colorado.

  4. Ghost Towns: Near Mount Sherman, you can explore the remnants of historical ghost towns like Leavick and Fairplay. These towns were once bustling with miners and their families during the silver rush era.

  5. Wind-Swept Summit: The summit of Mount Sherman is known for being extraordinarily windy, which adds an extra challenge to those reaching the top. The winds are so notable that they often shape snow formations and influence hiking conditions.

Photos

These are a collection of photos of Mount Sherman.

Additional Resources

Looking for more information for planning your visit to Mount Sherman? Here are some additional resources and websites with more info to continue your research online:

Mount Sherman Resources

  1. 14ers.comThe gold standard online 14er route guide for Mt Sherman

  2. Wikipedia: A wealth of information about Mount Sherman, including its history and geology.

  3. US Forest Service: The official USFS page with information about climbing the peak.

News Articles about Mount Sherman

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that we haven’t addressed below? 

Email us at info@thenextsummit.org and we can provide an answer and more details.

 

A: While you cannot drive up Mount Sherman, you can drive up to approximately 12,000 feet where the road ends. This is one of the highest starts of any Colorado 14er, well above the treeline from the beginning. This is why Mount Sherman has the shortest route of any of the 14,000 foot peaks in the state.





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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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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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