(G & M: #455)
Red Mountain C
Our suggested route for Red Mountain C includes this summit with Hoosier Ridge for a long, high-altitude, Class 2 hike east and northeast of Hoosier Pass. The terrain is largely tundra/grass and some areas of embedded rock and rubble. Since the trailhead for this route is Hoosier Pass, it is accessible to any passenger vehicle. This hike lends itself to a possible car shuttle to reduce mileage, but can also be done as an out-and-back. 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.
Red Mountain SE Ridge Route
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 2.1 miles south of the pass on SH 9. 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".
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. 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.
From Hoosier Ridge
Open This Route in a New Window
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 wild flowers. 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 and is rockier than the approach ridge. From here, either reverse your route for the return or head on north for Red Mtn.
Year Climbed: 2003
Red Mountain is sequenced with Hoosier Ridge. Mileage and elevation gain to Red Mtn., are measured from the summit of Hoosier Ridge. RT mileage and elevation gain assume reversing the entire route for the descent. A car shuttle as we propose can reduce both.
The connecting ridge between Hoosier and Red Mtn. is a little rocky in places, especially near the top coming off Hoosier. Then you get back into more tundra. At the saddle between the two summits, is the head of a large snowfield (early to mid-season) that descends down the SW gully off Red Mountain. Make note of that gully but continue on north. The next 100 feet of ascending, involved for us walking up a steep snowbank along the ridge of Red Mtn. Once we negotiated this one obstacle, making good use of our ice axes, we strolled to the summit of Red Mtn. over broken rock and tundra. Take the time on the summit to enjoy the view west of the Tenmile Range and the assorted valleys.
To return to your vehicle, simply reverse your route and hike the 5.2 miles back or, consider the following car shuttle. We felt compelled to make this descent because building weather would have exposed us to not only precipitation for a long period of time, but lightening as well. We hiked back down the ridge we came up to the aforementioned saddle. Then, we began our descent down this snow-filled gully by glissading down on our feet and rears for several hundred feet. At about the 12,000 ft. level, we left the snow and began to contour down on the north side of the gully across steep, loose dirt and clumps of grass and wildflowers. We contoured around the southwest flank of the mountain, into a shallow basin and toward an old road we saw emerging into the tundra from a group of trees along a minor ridge. This road soon led us to an old mine claim with a building that appeared to be occupied. We walked quietly by, assuming we may be on private property and continued our hike down this rugged and steep, private road, but never saw any private property postings. It descended through forest all the way down to a housing subdivision, east of the highway and just down from the highway switchback on the map at 10,600 ft. Once in the subdivision, we had no reliable map as to which road to follow to get out. If you use this descent suggestion, you may want to study a map beforehand. One main road we intersected appeared to take us somewhere. We followed it to the south about 50 yards and came to the conclusion this was not the best way to go. So we turned north along the same road and began walking down. It turned out this was the best way to go as the road led us out of the subdivision and to the highway. There are a number of very nice homes in this development.
If someone uses this descent option and finds that any of the route is posted for Private Property, please notify us.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
"There" always looks better than "here," but when you get "there," it's now "here." Annonymous
Good advice for climbers to follow.