LoJ: #506 (Pre-LiDAR #507) / 13,170' Sheep Mountain Sheep Mountain C

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Sheep Mountain
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 09' 32.47", W 107° 27' 56.79" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon UN 13102 [Formerly UN 13100 A]

Peak Summary

Sheep Mountain (C) on the Sheep Mountain quad is a Class 2 hike with a fairly long trail approach. The trailhead is located along the Little Cimarron River and is accessible to most passenger vehicles via a graded gravel road. This road does not show on the 1963 Sheep Mountain quad, but does show on the Uncompahgre National Forest map and partially on Trails Illustrated #141. This area does not receive an excess of visitors. Lidar added 2 feet of elevation.

Sheep Mountain East Face Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with UN 13102
RT From East/Little Cimarron Trail: 11mi / 3,455'
  • Trailhead
    • East/Little Cimarron Trail TH

      The only direct road access to the trailhead is from a turnoff along US50 a few miles east of Cimarron. From the center of Montrose, the turnoff for CR864 is appx. 21 miles east on US50, or appx. 64 miles west of Gunnison on US50. The road turnoff is marked. Drive generally south for 17 miles on a good graded, gravel road to reach the trailhead, which is a very small parking area on a sharp switchback. When the road crosses into Uncompahgre National Forest land, it becomes FR864. The trailhead is called the " East Cimarron Trail on a sign post."


      About a half mile back from the switchback and trailhead parking, there is a primitive camp area that also serves as a location to pick up the Alpine Trail #225. This is primitive camping with no facilities but there is a bridge across the Cimarron here and a trail leads south which eventually ties in with the Little Cimarron Trail #246 which provides the access for Sheep Mountain and UN 13,100.

      When CR864 crosses into the National Forest, there is a primitive camp area almost immediately on the right and there are at least two other such camp areas as you continue driving south.

      Campsite Locations

      Alpine Trail Access › N 38° 13' 14.74", W 107° 27' 58.50"
      Elevation 9,550 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Sheep Mountain East Face

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2007

    For years, we had driven US50 between Montrose and Gunnison, seeing this mountain and its very noticeable flat, north-sloping summit ridge. It can be spotted from many miles away by this distinct shape. For a long time, we were unaware that this was a ranked 13er.

    Begin this hike from the trailhead located at the sharp switchback on FR864, a half mile south of the camp area and trail crossing of the Alpine Trail. The hiking here is easy and gentle, following an old roadbed for 1.5 mile to a crossing of the Little Cimarron over to the west side. There will likely be no assist here to cross. Continue hiking south another 1.5 mile still following the old roadbed that will dwindle to a trail. At about 3.0 miles in on this hike, you will be east of the northern flat summit ridge of Sheep Mountain. To this point, most of the hiking has been well forested. There is a now series of five distinct avalanche chutes that sweep down off the east face of the mountain. Count these chutes and when you come to the fifth, that's where you can head up to the west. By then, you will be almost directly east of and below the summit. This particular chute is distinguished from the others by having an "island" of trees in the middle of the chute that have survived. There are also two drainages within this chute. Google Earth shows the trail well up on the hillside here, above the creek. Coordinates for this chute are: N 38° 09' 43.68 W 107° 26' 59.48".

    Head west, hiking up this chute which will steepen as you gain elevation. You will be hiking through low conifers, avalanche debris and farther up, lush grass and tundra. When we did this hike, there was abundant evidence of elk grazing in this area. Most of your elevation gain for the day will be in this stretch - around 2,400 feet. As you near the summit, it's probably easiest to swing a little more south to avoid some cliffs below the summit, following on the south side of a ridge of sorts to emerge on the summit plateau just south of the true summit. The lush tundra will have given way to low tundra and smaller embedded scree and rocks. Once you arrive here, take a look at the view into the East Fork of the Cimarron far below.

    The view into the East Fork of the Cimarron is astounding from here. As one can see on the map, the entire western flank of Sheep Mtn. is an intricate convolution of eroded rock worn into fantastic cliffs, spires, gullies and indescribable forms. It's really indescribable. From this summit, either return as you came or continue on to UN 13,100.

    Additional Note: It is also possible to begin this hike from the primitive camp area a half mile north of the switchback/trailhead, where the Alpine trail can be accessed. There is a bridge across the creek here to take hikers to the west bank. Hike south on a good trail until you come to an intersection. Take the lower trail (left) and continue hiking south up along the creek. At times, this trail may fade in grassy, open sections, but press on. After 2 miles, it will intersect the main trail where it crosses over from the east side of the Little Cimarron. From there, on, the route is as described above.

    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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