Mount Sherman, in the middle of the north- to south-trending Mosquito Range, is a rounded 14,036-foot-high (4,278 meters) peak that rises above the western edge of broad South Park in central Colorado. The mountain, usually considered the easiest of Colorado’s 55 Fourteeners, is an excellent climb for beginning mountaineers, children, and visitors unused to Colorado’s high altitude and, in summer, requires only basic outdoor gear. The peak is named for the great Union General William Tecumseh Sherman who, during the Civil War, practiced a scorched earth policy while marching to Atlanta in 1864.
Sherman, Colorado’s 46th highest peak, is a fast hike for a reasonably fit person since it is possible to park as high as 12,000 feet, leaving only a couple thousand feet of elevation gain to the summit and a round-trip hike of just over five miles. Like all the Fourteeners though, Mount Sherman needs to be treated with some respect. Thunderstorms brew over the Sawatch Range to the west and move in quickly. It always seems windy on Sherman’s upper ridge and summit. It’s best to get an early start, carry rain gear, and keep an eye on the weather for thunderstorms and lightning. Keep in mind that the mountain is on a mining claim owned by the Day Mine Company in Leadville.
- Peak: Mount Sherman 14,036 feet (4,278 meters)
- Location: Central Colorado. Southwest of Fairplay
- Range: Mosquito Range
- Difficulty: Class 2. Moderate. Hiking and scrambling over boulders.
- Trailhead Elevation: 12,000 feet (In winter the road closes at Leavick at 11,250 feet)
- Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet or 2,900 feet from Leavick
- Round-Trip Distance: 5.25 miles (8.5 miles from Leavick)
- Camping: Informal primitive camping at the trailhead and along County Road 18.
- Lodging: Hotels and motels are in Fairplay just to the north.
- Nearest Town: Fairplay
Directions to Trailhead: From Fairplay on the northwest edge of South Park, drive south on US 285 for just over a mile and make a right turn on Park County Road 18. Follow the gravel road for just over 10 miles to the preferred parking area at 11,250 feet at the old Leavick town site. The road is closed here in winter. Park at Leavick or continue driving.
Past Leavick, you can drive up the very rough road for another 1.5 miles. A passenger car can make it with care in good conditions, but a high-clearance vehicle is preferred. The road may be impassable after severe storms. A couple small pulloffs are found as well as a final parking area just before a gate at 12,000 feet.
Route Description: From the Leavick parking area (4.25 miles to the summit from Leavick), hike up the road for 1.5 miles to the upper parking lot. Continue hiking up the road, passing a gate at 12,000 feet, to the Dauntless Mine and some old wooden buildings at 12,300 feet. Continue northwest up the road in a wide basin below the obvious Hilltop Mine and follow it up to the mine at 12,900 feet. Trek west and scramble up loose rock and along a rough climber path to the 13,140-foot-high saddle between Mount Sherman on the right (north) and Mount Sheridan on the left (south). From here you have just under 1,000 feet of elevation to gain to the top.
Climb up right onto Sherman’s broad southwest ridge, following braided trails (pick the most obvious one if possible). After a few hundred feet of climbing, the ridge begins to narrow. Hike up a good trail along the ridge crest to the mountain’s long flat summit. Locate the summit cairn, usually an immense pile of stones, and sign your name in the official register. There—you’ve made it. Your first Fourteener!
The best descent is to reverse the same route that you followed up the mountain. In late spring and early summer, you can make a swift glissade down snowfields on Sherman’s southeast flank. Just remember to carry and use an ice axe. This also makes a good ski descent if there’s enough snow.
Buy a Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners
Colorado Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs by Gerry Roach.