Monday, August 4, 2014

Horseshoe Mountain and Peerless Mountain

Horseshoe Mountain
With school ramping up in a couple of weeks I wanted to get out on a last camping trip for the summer.  I have long wanted to hike Horseshoe Mountain.  This mountain has an easy class 1 trail that is within a couple hours of Denver.  Craig found us a nice camp site at the Four Mile CG which is just down the road from the Horseshoe TH.  We met up with Craig around 7am, set up our tent and were on our way to the TH.
The TH for this hike can have many different meanings.  It all depends on how far you are willing to drive your vehicle.  We saw a few vehicles that drove to the saddle separating Horseshoe and Peerless Mountains (13,200ft), but that kind of defeats the purpose of what we are all doing out here.  I chose to start at the 4WD TH described on the description. 
Basic directions are to head to Fairplay along HWY 285.  Drive south through town making a turn right onto CR18.  There is a sign directing you towards Four Mile Creek Rd.  Follow this for 8 miles to Four Mile CG.  About two miles up the road from the CG is the Leavick site.  There is plenty of parking just past the old mining structure for low clearance vehicles.  Those with capable vehicles can drive an additional .75 miles up the road turning left onto a more rocky road.  Drive about .5 mile up this road to the TH used in this trip report.  As I mentioned 4WD vehicles can make it much further up the road and there are plenty of spots to park, it just depends on how much hiking you want to do.
Nick and Craig on the Ridge
We arrived at the TH around 8am and were soon started hiking up the road.  The road is easy walking and soon I found out that we could have driven up further than we did.  That was o.k. with me because I was up for a good hike today.  A mixture of old mining roads weave all around the side of the mountain, so basically just pick the road that has the right grade for you.  This could have been done in a more direct fashion as well, but I think our group was happy with adding some extra miles to ease the hike up.
Alongside the road there are remnants of past mining.  Some of it was interesting, but most of it looked like trash that wasn’t too incredibly old.   Checking out the old equipment does help take your mind off the exhaustion though.  The switchbacks weren’t that bad; about an hour and a half from the start of our adventure put us on the saddle between Horseshoe and Peerless Mountains.
By the time we got to the saddle the mostly blue sky was starting to cloud up a bit.  We decided to head over to Horseshoe first then do the short hike up Peerless on our way back down.  There is a faint trail that leads to the main ridge of Horseshoe that can easily be followed.  After getting off the main saddle area the trail will start gaining again, but nothing to steep.  There is just over 600ft of elevation to gain from the saddle to the summit.
Craig, Kristi and Nick on the summit of Horseshoe
Some puffy clouds were getting close to the mountain but they kept heading to the south, so the weather was working for us.  I had to keep a close eye on them tough because they were pretty close at times.    
About two and a half hours into our hike we made it to the summit of Horseshoe Mountain.  The view down to the Leavick Tarn was quite impressive.  I could only imagine the crowds of people over on Sherman today, so I felt pretty lucky that just the three of us were on this summit.
We had a quick snack and took the usual pictures before heading down.  I wanted to get down before any rain or thunder storms came along to ruin our fun day.  I was feeling pretty good on the way down so I tried to sling-shot my way up Peerless as quick as I could.  From the saddle area it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to summit.  The view of Sheridan is very enticing from Peerless.  I have already climbed that mountain so I said hello and goodbye as I headed back down to the saddle where Kristi was.
Nick and Craig Ascending Peerless Mountain
At the saddle Kristi had found a couple of our friends that climbed the wrong mountain today.  We caught up with them for a few minutes then started making our way down.  I was more in the mood for the direct line down the mountain rather than the road, but not everyone else was in agreement with that.  I decided I would head down and grab the Jeep so I could drive up to pick the rest of our group up.  It was a fun run/skip/trying not to eat it adventure cross country to the TH.  It didn’t seem like too much time went by and I had made it back to the Jeep.  A quick 5 minute drive and I met them on the road.

I think we all had a great time on the mountain today.  Kristi got her first 13er in and I think this was Craig’s first mountain of the year.  I would recommend this for any beginner wanting to get out on an easy peak.  I would rate this hike exactly like the neighboring 14er Mount Sherman.  So if you can do one, you should have no problem doing the other.  Someday I’d like to come back and do a Tour de Sherman starting with Sheep Mountain looping all the way to Sherman.  But that is a long ways off, since I don’t have the endurance for a hike like that right now.  Now it’s time to relax a bit before classes start in a few weeks.  Cheers!
GPS Track
Date: 8/2/2014
TH Elevation:  11,840 feet
Horseshoe Mountain: 13,894 feet
Peerless Mountain: 13,337 feet
Total Gained Elevation: 2,200 feet
Class: 1
Distance:  6.67 miles
Time:  3:43 moving, 1:47 stopped
Climbing Partner: Kristi, Craig

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