hiking Mount Sherman

Hiking Mount Sherman | Best Route Description, Map & Advice

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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

Hiking Mount Sherman: Southwest Ridge

Remember Mountain Safety Best Practices!

14ers can be dangerous due to altitude sickness, lightning, variable weather conditions, loose rock, and exposure. If you are new to hiking and climbing 14ers, click here and take a minute to review our safety tips and advice.

You’ll start hiking Mount Sherman from 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 Mount Sherman along its southwest ridge. 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 Guide

My Mt Sherman Route Guide includes this topographical map you can use for your trip. If you are planning on hiking Mount Sherman, I highly recommend downloading this image digitally on your phone and bringing a print out of a paper copy as a backup version in case anything happens to your electronics along the way.

Checking the Weather forecast before your trip is just as important as reviewing this Mt Sherman Route Guide. Here’s a few dependable weather sources to get started with before hiking Mount Sherman.

Mt Sherman Weather Forecast

Mt Sherman Route Guide

The southwest ridge route starts at the Fourmile Creek Trailhead. You need a 4WD vehicle to reach the upper trailhead. If you start hiking Mount Sherman from the Leavick site it adds about 3.25 miles round-trip, bring it from 5.25 to 8.5 miles round-trip.


From Fairplay, drive just over a mile south on U.S. 285 and turn right onto County Road 18. Drive 10 miles to a large parking area at 11,250′. This is the Leavick site. There is a large mine building on the right before the parking area.
The road starts to get rough after this point but passenger cars can slowly drive another 1.5 miles before the road gets harsh. There are a couple of small pull-offs between 11,700′ and 11,900′ and more parking before a gate near 12,000′. The gate is usually closed. In winter, the road is usually plowed only to 11,100′ which is one mile below the Leavick site. Now you can start hiking Mount Sherman!

Bringing the right gear you will make your hike safer and more it more likely you reach the summit successfully. Here is what. I recommend bringing with you while hiking Mount Sherman.

Hiking Boots: Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX Boots

Power through uphills and descents in any weather with Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX men’s hiking boots. They give you the stability and grip you need, plus a higher cut for extra ankle support.

Buy at REI →

Backpack: Osprey Talon 22 Pack

The Osprey Talon 22 is the perfect size for those hiking Mount Sherman. With trek pole clasps to secure them to your pack, a pocket for your hydration bladder, and great comfort, you cannot beat this backpack.

Buy at REI →

Trek Poles: REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles

Trek poles provide stability while hiking and help you use your upper body strength while moving to give your legs a break. These award-winning poles from REI are lightweight, strong, and adjustable for rugged terrain.

Buy at REI →

Always Pack the Ten Essentials

The ten essentials are the most important pieces of gear you need to survive in an emergency in the backcountry. They empower you to actively respond to a crisis instead of passively waiting for search and rescue to respond. You should tweak the specific equipment you bring on each hike according to conditions, but you should always have something for each of these ten categories.

1. Navigation Gear

I recommend bringing a map and compass. If you want to use GPS, get a dedicated unit. Phone batteries die quickly in the cold on a 14er. This 14er map pack works well for hiking Mount Sherman.

2. Headlamp and Batteries

Even if you don’t plan to be out until dark, you can’t plan for everything. If you’re running behind, having the ability to see – and be seen – is everything. I recommend this headlamp from Black Diamond.

3. Emergency Shelter

When bad weather strikes without warning or someone falls and is injured, a shelter to get out of the elements can save your life. This emergency bivy works well for an easier peak like Mount Sherman.

4. Extra Water

Bring 2 liters of water per person on your hike – if not more. You also want to bring a purification system to get more if you get stuck outside. That could be purification pills like these, or a lifestraw like this.

5. Extra Food

I recommend packing 1,000-2,000 extra calories while hiking Mount Sherman. If you do get stuck out there longer than expected, some extra power gel or energy bars will make a big difference.

6. Knife or Multi-tool

The benefits of having this around in an emergency are self-evident: You can prepare firewood, create a shelter, fix gear, and solve other problems. I recommend a leatherman multitool, which is so much more helpful than just a knife.

7. Sunglasses and Sunscreen

The solar radiation is powerful when you are above the tree line. Bringing strong sunscren (60+ SPF) is recommended to avoid sunburn. Bring a pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes too.

8. Fire-Starting Kit

If you get stuck outdoors in the mountains, the cold is one of the biggest immediate threats to your life. Being able to start a fire can keep you alive through a cold night. Bring a small kit that includes matches and tinder for starting an emergency fire.

9. First Aid Kit

For hiking Mount Sherman you don’t need to go overboard. Some bandages, moleskin, and pain relief medication is more than enough to deal with falls and scrapes, blisters, and altitude sickness.

10. Extra Layers

Bring one layer beyond what you expect to wear. In summer, that usually means bringing an extra coat or jacket you keep packed away in your bag. If you end up stuck outside overnight with a broken ankle, you will very happy you brought it with you. These nanopuff jackets from Patagonia are lightweight but provide a ton of warmth.

Satellite Messenger: InReach Mini 2

When something goes wrong out on the trail, it is immensely helpful to be able to contact search and rescue teams quickly. Most areas of Mount Sherman do not have dependable cell service. A satellite messenger or personal locator beacon allows you to call for help in an emergency in almost any location. They are expensive and require a subscription, but they have saved many lives on peaks like Mount Sherman.

I recommend the Garmin InReach Mini 2, with also offers premium GPS mapping in addition to text and SOS features.

Buy at REI →

Q: Can you drive up Mount Sherman?
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.

Camping near Mount Sherman:

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.

Lodging near Mount Sherman:

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

Mount Sherman is one of the 10 busiest fourteeners in Colorado – and it continues to get busier. Please help us preserve the area while hiking Mount Sherman by following this important Leave No Trace practices:

  • 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 climbing Mount Sherman! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

Mount Sherman is famous for being one of the flattest Colorado 14ers. It’s so flat, a plane once had an emergency landing on the large summit plateau. Named in 1881 for Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, it was the scene of intense mining operations at the dawn of the 20th century.

Those driving up to the Fourmile Creek trailhead will notice numerous mining ruins and relics along the drive. This includes the remains of a large aireal tram system that once brought ore down from the mountain to the Leavick Mill for processing. There was a thriving mining community in this same area, though the only clue is a large number of tree stumps, cut by miners for firewood long ago.

Much of Mount Sherman and the surrounding area remains privately owned today. Please respect private property by obeying area closures and staying on the trail when you do have public access. This helps protect our access to the peaks for the future. Safe travels on your trip hiking Mount Sherman!

Hiking Mount Sherman 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.


Hiking Mount Sherman 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, 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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