Horseshoe Mountain Route Guide | An Easy Centennial 13er

When you first see Horseshoe Mountain, you immediately understand how it got its name. The eastern face of the peak is dominated by a massive glacial cirque cut by ice over thousands of years. The similarity to a great horseshoe is impossible to miss. Despite the massive cliffs, the main route is an easy Class 1 hike to the top on a 4WD for much of the way. This provides a very gradual slope most of the way up to the summit. Plan your trip up to the top with this Horseshoe Mountain Route Guide.

New to 13ers? Check Out my Beginners Guide Here to Get Started!

Horseshoe Mountain Fast Facts

Horseshoe Mountain Route Guide - East Slopes

Park at the bottom of the 4WD where it leave the main road up towards Mt. Sherman. You can also continue a half mile up the road and park there at a small lot. Continue up the road along a series of switchbacks, aiming for the ridge to the right of the horseshoe.

The 4WD road you take along the East Slopes are historic mining roads, used to reach silver veins in the late 19th century. You’ll pass several historic mining structures as you continue up the road. Be cautious and stick to the trail as these structures are often unstable and dangerous.

Eventually you’ll reach the saddle at the top of the East Slopes. This is a good place to stop for a water break and to check the weather. If you think the conditions are deteriorating head down, otherwise take a left to head south towards the summit.

Follow the ridge up towards the summit of Horseshoe Mountain. If hiking in the spring or early summer there may be snow and cornices. Avoid these as the ice and snow may break without warning, taking you with it. Hike to the highest point along the ridge, the broad summit.

Once you reach the top, celebrate your accomplishment. A summit beer and a sandwich are great options. Ensure you head back to treeline in time to reach it before afternoon thunderstorms become active in the summer. I hope you found my Horseshoe Mountain Route Guide helpful and informative.

Hiking & climbing 13ers or 14ers 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, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Horseshoe Mountain route guide accept all risks associated with climbing 13ers and 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

Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.

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