(G & M: #351)
Hoosier Ridge, on the east side of Hoosier Pass, combines easily with Red Mountain C for an easy day of high altitude, tundra ridge walking with some sections of rubble and rock-hopping thrown in. This hike lends itself to a possible car shuttle to reduce mileage, but can also be done as an out-and-back. The trailhead is Hoosier Pass so it's accessible to any passenger vehicle. The Class 2 hike offers excellent views of the Tenmile Range, Mt. Silverheels and the three 14ers, Democrat, Lincoln & Bross with mostly Lincoln & Bross in view.
Hoosier Ridge West & South Route
RT From Hoosier Pass:
The summit of Hoosier Pass is the trailhead for North Star Mountain, Hoosier Ridge and Red Mountain. The pass is located on State Highway 9. The trailhead for Mt. Silverheels is either 2.3 miles south of the pass on SH 9 or 2.85. There is a pullout on the east side of the highway at that location with a single-track road heading off up the hillside. A few yards north on the highway, there is a larger parking area on the west side. This is the second major drainage the highway crosses south of the Hoosier Pass summit. The small stream is unnamed on the USGS map. Roach refers to it as "South Scott Gulch." In case there is a mileage difference, the coordinates for the pullout are: N 39° 20' 05.16" W 106° 03' 04.23". Recent reports to us indicate that this old road access is now closed and marked for Private Property. If so, an alternate start is another .4 mile down from the pass towards Alma. See the Mt. Silverheels route description for further details regarding this alternate start.
From I-70, westbound or eastbound, take exit 203 or 201 for Frisco. From Frisco, continue southbound on SH 9 to Breckenridge. Continue on through Breckenridge past Goose Pasture Tarn and Blue River to the summit of Hoosier Pass where there is usually ample parking on the west side of the highway.
From the south, State Highway 9 can be picked up at Fairplay from US 285. Drive north on SH 9 through Fairplay, then Alma. (Watch for speed traps. The speed limits are rigidly enforced.) North of Alma, the highway begins its ascent to Hoosier Pass in earnest. The trailhead for Mt. Silverheels will come before arriving at the summit of Hoosier Pass. See coordinates above or see the Mt. Silverheels route description. For the other summits, accessed from the top of the pass, park just off the highway on the west side. In summer months there are usually numerous vehicles stopped here from out of state visitors taking in the view and gasping for air.
On the west side of the highway at the top of the pass there are several informal campsites (no facilities) that have evolved over the years. Enough for a half dozen campers or so. You'll just have to put up with some highway noise. Last time we used one of these sites was in 2013. This area has become well-known and typically full, especially on weekends. We would not be surprised to see the Forest Service or some other governing agency shut it down some day.
There are Forest Service, fee campgrounds in South Park, south and west of Fairplay. These are the Fourmile CG and the Horseshoe CG, both located on CR 18 that heads up toward Mt. Sherman. If you want camping information around the Dillon/Frisco area, see the link below. You can also find limited and not very private places to park and car camp on the north side of Hoosier Pass. Try CR850/Blue Lakes Road up to the lower lake or CR851/McCullough Gulch Road to the end of the road, past all the parking for Quandary Peak. Do not expect to find an available spot here on a summer weekend however, from all the climber traffic heading for Quandary. Otherwise, continued private development throughout this area has made at-large camping mostly a thing of the past.
Year Climbed: 2003
Begin your hike directly across the highway from the west side parking and scramble up the road bank to find an old roadbed heading generally east, near the crest of the very broad, Hoosier Ridge. It won't be long before you're out of the trees and willows and hiking up gentle, grassy terrain with many scattered wildflowers. The route is simple; just keep following the crest of the ridge east, then continue following the ridge as it turns north. Several miles off in the distance, you'll be able to see the summits of Hoosier and Red. From your distant vantage point, it may appear you will be on tundra the entire route. Later on you will find out this assessment is not true., but to the point where the ridge turns north, it's almost all tundra.
As the ridge turns north, you will enjoy nice views of Mt. Silverheels to the southeast and some other tundra filled basins. When we hiked here, we had hoped to see some elk, but never spotted any. This is prime habitat. As you head north, the tundra ridge will give way to more rock, slowing your progress at times. There is never anything difficult, but rock hopping is always slower. After more than 2 hours of walking, we arrived at the Hoosier summit. The true summit comes after several false humps that add a significant amount of additional elevation gain from al the ups and downs, and is rockier than the approach ridge. From here, either reverse your route for the return or head on north for Red Mtn.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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