Hike the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Sherman



5.25 miles

Elevation Gain

2000 ft

Route Type


Added by Katie Lyons

This short, class 2 hike leads to the top of one of Colorado's 14ers. It offers incredible views of the surrounding peaks as well as wildlife, wildflowers, and abandoned mining sites.

Colorado has over 50 14ers (mountains at or above 14,000' in elevation) throughout seven mountain ranges. Summiting a 14er is no small feat, and seasoned mountaineers and weekend warriors alike line these trails during the summer and fall months in an attempt to bag some of Colorado's most beautiful summits. 

Mt. Sherman sits at 14,036', barely cresting above the invisible, namesake line which makes these mountains both enticing and challenging. From Fairplay Colorado, take CR 18 ten miles to the Fourmile Creek trailhead at 12,000 feet, just over tree line. This bumpy road can easily be driven by any car with high clearance, all wheel or four wheel drive, but low clearance passenger cars are advised to park at the Leavick Mine site (11,250') and hike up the road to the trailhead. Parking at this site increases the mileage to 8.5 and the elevation gain to 2,750, but since the hiking is all on road it is far from strenuous.

Once you arrive at the trailhead, hike up the old mining road past several abandoned mine sites.  The first fork in the road occurs about a half mile from the trailhead, and a large arrow made from rocks directs hikers down the correct path on the right. Continue to follow the most obvious trail up to the Hilltop Mine site. Past this mine, the trail becomes a bit more difficult to follow. Keep a sharp eye out for cairns (man made rock piles) to guide you as you ascend along the talus slope near 13,000'. At this point the trail goes to the right for Mt. Sherman, and to the left for Mt Sheridan, a 13er which is an easy add-on for hikers who just can't get enough of the Colorado mountain trails. The work ahead is presented by a steep scree field which spans the length of approximately one mile. Continue to follow cairns up the steep slope, and you will find yourself on a narrow ridge leading to the summit. The ridge is not too exposed, and those with moderate hiking experience are unlikely to be phased by the height and exposure. Despite this hike being relatively safe and easy, exercise caution and be surefooted on the last part of this ascent. 

Once the ridge ends, you will be standing above 14,000' and will follow one final quarter mile push on flat ground to the true summit. From here you will be able to see much of Colorado's Sawatch Range (home to many other 14ers), to the west, as well as several other 13ers to the north, south, and east. Take in the views as you refuel and hydrate, and then begin the far less strenuous hike back to your vehicle. Follow the same route, and enjoy the wildflowers, pika, and marmots you'll certainly see on the way down. 

Sherman is a great 14er for anyone who wants to experience the best of Colorado's peaks, but doesn't have too much high country hiking experience. The panoramic views offered by this peak are nothing short of spectacular. Despite their difficulty, 14ers can be addictive! Don't be surprised if you're looking to bag the 52 other peaks after you've hiked Sherman.

*14er safety note*

While many 14ers can be hiked in relative safety, a few important things should be noted before making any summit attempts.

Difficulty: Colorado's 14ers can be very safe walk ups, or dangerous, experts-only ascents. As a 14er newbie, you will want to start with a class 1 or class 2 peak unless you have significant hiking experience elsewhere. It's a great idea to invest in a guide book so you know exactly what to expect when you hit the trails.

Weather: Colorado has somewhat unpredictable weather, especially above treeline. Sudden thunderstorms can not only foil a summit attempt, but also put hikers at risk for lightning strikes and hypothermia due to rain. Check weather forecasts before you even start driving to the trailhead, as many trailheads do not have adequate cell service to check conditions when you arrive. Begin your hike as early as possible to avoid thunderstorms, even on days when the chance for storms is low. On sunny days, make sure to apply adequate amounts of sunscreen as the sun is far more intense at high elevations.

Fuel and hydration: Food and water are especially important when hiking a 14er. Bring at least 80 oz of water, even on short hikes because you may consume more than you anticipate. Trail mixes, energy bars, fruit, and granola are all great ideas for trail fuel. It's never a bad idea to bring more than you think you'll need as trails can be unpredictable.

Clothing: Warm layers and rain layers are a must on 14ers. Summit temperatures can be significantly cooler than trailhead temps, and winds can gust well over 60 mph on bad days. An extra jacket is never a bad thing to carry, and rain layers are essential for protection if an unexpected storm rolls in. Even in the summer months, bringing gloves and a light hat isn't a bad idea. Quality hiking shoes are a must. A decent pair of running shoes or hiking boots with quality traction will be just fine, but shoes like Chacos or Tevas are usually a no-go. 

Trail conditions: While some 14ers have easy to follow, obvious summit trails, others are a little more difficult to follow. Bringing a topo map or downloading the 14ers app can help direct you when you don't have cell service in the back country, and ensure you are in the right location. Don't be surprised to see snow on the trails, even in June and July! Cairns are your best friends while hiking these peaks, and a surefire way to stay on route (on that note, do not build your own cairns as they can be misleading).

Altitude: Very few other places in the US crest above 14,000'. It is important to be aware of altitude sickness, over exertion at a high elevation leading to feeling ill. Whether you're coming from a high elevation or a low elevation, drink plenty of water, go slow, and if you're feeling nauseous, headache-y, or otherwise ill, head to lower elevations as soon as possible. While it is rare, altitude sickness can be deadly. The 14ers will always stand in their locations; you can always go back another day.

On a final note, 14ers are difficult but rewarding. When the going gets tough, just imagine that final summit view and push through. It will undoubtedly be worth it!

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