(G & M: #406)
Sheep Mountain A
Sheep Mountain A is located off the Stony Pass Road via Silverton and Howardsville. The vehicle approach is 4WD with good clearance from any direction including Silverton/Howardsville, unless you are prepared to do a lot of walking. The hike is rated a Class 2 with few if any difficulties and offers a visit to a vast tundra area high in the San Juan Mountains with distant views and field of wildflowers in the peak summer months.
Sheep Mountain A North Ridge Route
RT From Stony Pass TH:
2.8 mi /
From the Town of Silverton, drive east to where the paved road splits one block past the courthouse and veer right onto blue-signed County Road 2 (set odometer here) for 4.2 miles of nicely graded dirt road to Howardsville. (On Trails Illustrated map #141, this road is labeled #110. Pavement ends after 2 miles.) Turn right onto BLM/FS Road 589 for Cunningham Gulch and Stony Pass. At 4.4 miles, stay right and avoid going up to the "Old Mine Tour." At 5.9 miles driving south, take the left fork for Stony Pass and begin the climb out of Cunningham Gulch. The Stony Pass road is BLM/FS 737. Once you leave Cunningham Gulch, the road will begin to degrade to a 4WD/high clearance status. In 1998, when we made this trip, vehicles like Subaru wagons could have made it to the summit of Stony Pass. In subsequent years, the road has experienced enough traffic and weathering to have some rough spots where a higher clearance vehicle is the safer bet. This road is also quite steep for its short duration of about 3 miles to the summit. Once at the top of the pass, park at a small turnout on the south side of the road.
Best place for overnight camping would be back down in Cunningham Gulch, south of the turnoff for Stony Pass. There are a few at-large campsites before the road in Cunningham ends. Otherwise, it's possible to park and car or tent camp at the pass. We do not recall any camp spots on along the 3 mile drive up to Stony Pass.
Year Climbed: 1998
You can use the summit of Stony Pass as the trailhead start for this hike, but if you want to reduce round-trip mileage a little, drive on down SE from the pass summit for just over one mile to where a short road turns off to the left (east) and park. During summer months, there is often a shepherds tent set up here and a large sheep herd may be grazing somewhere in the vast areas of surrounding tundra. Coordinates are: N 37° 47' 15.78" W 107° 32' 13.83". Put on your packs and head out, first descending east to cross the minor creek that comes in the the NE. It is a little marshy here, even in the fall, so during the summer months, you may get boots a little wet. Even as we began hiking up, there were still a few marsh areas. Once through the marsh, hike generally east over lush tundra and grass heading for the north ridge of Sheep Mtn. A direct path to the ridge will encounter more rock. To avoid that rockier terrain, swing a little north to find a minor gully with more tundra. We joined this ridge about 300 feet below the summit and continued to the top of the large, flat area, covered mostly with smaller, scree-type rock and talus. This is the best place for a lunch break if it times out that way. The entire hike up will be laced with sheep trails. This large, flat area is not the official summit, however, Google Earth shows it as having the same elevation as the marked summit. To get to the designated summit, you must continue hiking east, following the ridge as it narrows with steep drop-offs on either side with rocky ribs and talus slopes. Progress will slow, but there are no serious obstacles to overcome. It may be difficult to determine the true summit if no cairn is present. If you continue on to Greenhalgh via this ridge, at some point you will have crossed the true summit.
Return as you came, or continue to Greenhalgh. For some better photos of this peak and Greenhalgh, see reports for Sheep and Greenhalgh on Lists of John.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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