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 Route
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!
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.
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:
Hiking Mount Sherman is not very difficult, but there is a short bit of scrambling as you near the summit. For this reason, I recommend a pair of hiking boots, rather than hiking shoes or sneakers. Here are my top hiking boot recommendations.
You should always bring the ten essentials with you on your trip (see the infographic below). Even on a relatively simple trip like hiking Mount Sherman, accidents can and do happen. To carry the ten essentials, 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 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:
- Western Inn Motel & RV Park
- Riverside Inn Hotel
- Hand Hotel Bed & Breakfast
- Mountain Comfort Bed and Breakfast
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.
- 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.
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.