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

CAUTION: This Route is Hazardous!

You are responsible for your personal 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!

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!

Mount Sherman Route Map

You should download a copy of this map on your smartphone and print out a backup paper copy as well. Phone screens shatter and batteries die – especially in the wind and cold. Never rely 100% on your phone for navigation purposes.

Weather is one of the biggest factors that determines whether you make it to the summit or not. Start checking the forecast several days before your climb and check it repeatedly – the forecast can change dramatically as your target date approaches – even the night beforehand. Here are several weather forecast resources for Mount Sherman:


You can view the complete National Weather Service weather forecast for Mount Sherman below. Scroll down to see the entire NWS forecast.

Always check the most recent condition reports available online to plan accordingly – is there snow? Can you reach the trailhead? What condition is the trail? You can get answers to most of these important questions using the resources below. Remember, we don’t vet individual reports on these sites – so take them with a grain of salt.

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.

DIRECTIONS TO THE FOURMILE CREEK TRAILHEAD:

Starting from Fairplay, head south on U.S. 285 for slightly more than a mile, then make a right turn onto County Road 18. Proceed for 10 miles until you reach a spacious parking lot situated at an elevation of 11,250 feet, known as the Leavick site. Before you reach the parking lot, you’ll notice a substantial mine structure on your right.

Beyond the Leavick site, the road begins to worsen but remains passable for standard vehicles for approximately another 1.5 miles before conditions deteriorate further. You’ll find a few minor pull-off areas between elevations of 11,700 and 11,900 feet, along with additional parking spaces before reaching a gate near the 12,000-foot mark. Typically, this gate is closed.

During the winter months, plowing services usually only maintain the road up to the 11,100-foot elevation point, which is a mile before you reach the Leavick site.

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 →

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.

Mountain safety should be a hiker’s primary concern when attempting to summit a 14er like Mount Sherman. These mountains can be treacherous, with rapidly changing weather, high altitudes, and tricky terrain posing significant challenges. Here are six essential tips to help you stay safe during your ascent:

  1. Check the Weather: Before embarking on your hike, ensure you check the local weather forecast for the area around Mount Sherman. It’s important to remember that weather at high altitude can change rapidly, and conditions can deteriorate quickly. If storms are predicted, it might be best to reschedule your hike. Thunderstorms are particularly dangerous in the afternoons, so try to start early and aim to be off the summit by noon.

  2. Prepare for High Altitude: Mount Sherman, like other 14ers, stands over 14,000 feet high. At this altitude, the air is thin, and some people may suffer from altitude sickness. Make sure to acclimate by spending a day or two at a lower but still significant altitude, hydrate well, eat enough calories, and consider taking it slower if you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, or extremely fatigued.

  3. Stay on the Trail: Mount Sherman’s trail is well-marked, but veering off can lead to dangerous, unstable terrain or even getting lost. Besides, sticking to the trail helps minimize impact on the fragile alpine environment.

  4. Gear Up Correctly: Carry the Ten Essentials: navigation (map and compass), sun protection, insulation (extra clothing), illumination (headlamp/flashlight), first-aid supplies, fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles), repair kit and tools, nutrition (extra food), hydration (extra water), and emergency shelter. This list was established by mountaineering experts to address the main kinds of emergencies you might face in the backcountry.

  5. Hike with a Partner: The buddy system is an effective way to ensure safety on the trail. In case of injury or emergency, having someone else present can be life-saving. Plus, you’ll have someone to share the spectacular views with!

  6. Know Your Limits: Mount Sherman might be considered one of the easier 14ers, but don’t let that fool you. The hike is still challenging, with significant altitude gain and a long distance to cover. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling overly fatigued or unwell, turn back. Remember, the mountain will always be there for another day.

No matter how many times you’ve hiked a 14er, safety should always be the top priority. Adhering to these guidelines will not only make your adventure safer but also more enjoyable.

Read our complete mountain safety guide

Named after General William Tecumseh Sherman, a notable figure in the American Civil War, Mount Sherman carries with it a rich vein of American history. It’s not just a mountain; it’s a monument to the past. Sherman, famous for his March to the Sea, left an indelible mark on the nation, and this mountain serves as a permanent testament to his influential role in shaping the United States. The mountain itself has a long history of mining. In fact, many hikers might notice remnants of old mines, abandoned cart tracks, and other relics from Colorado’s mining era. These historical artifacts add an extra layer of depth and intrigue to any hiking journey.

In terms of flora and fauna, Mount Sherman is nestled in the Mosquito Range and boasts a variety of life adapted to the harsh alpine conditions. While the vegetation is sparse at higher altitudes, you can find hardy alpine forget-me-nots and sky pilot flowers blooming in the brief summer months, painting the mountain slopes with a hint of color. Mammals like marmots, pika, and bighorn sheep are often seen on the mountain, while golden eagles and ptarmigans soar above or pick their way through the rugged terrain respectively.

Mount Sherman stands at 14,036 feet, making it the 45th highest peak in Colorado. While it’s often regarded as one of the “easier” 14ers due to its relatively non-technical standard route, it nonetheless offers hikers an unforgettable experience. As you make your ascent, watch for the Hilltop Mine, an interesting feature situated just below the summit. And once you’ve reached the peak, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views that encompass Leadville, the Sawatch Range, and the Tenmile Range. It’s these distinct characteristics that make Mount Sherman more than just a hike—it’s a journey through history and a testament to the resilient beauty of nature.

There are no permits or reservations required to hike Mount Sherman.

However, a significant portion of the route, including the summit, is on private land. The trailhead and remainder is on US Forest Service land. Please help protect public access to the area by:

  • Following Leave No Trace practices,
  • Staying on the trail and out of mine structures, 
  • Keep dogs leashed and clean up after them.


Learn more here

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

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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