Marys Mountain – 9860’ and Sheep Mountain – 9820’

RT Length: 12.77 miles

Elevation Gain: 4823’

These peaks have been on my short list since last year, when I attempted to hike them in winter by following the cog railway (which was under construction and not running).  I learned two things:  There was too much snow to summit this time of year from the cog, and the route is seriously steep!  My legs were burning after just 2 miles. 

I’ve been hiking in this area the past few weeks and was surprised at how little snow there was, so I figured now was a great time to attempt this hike. I parked at the Barr Trail lot, paid the $10 fee at the machine, and was on my way at 6am.

This time, instead of following the cog railway, I followed Barr Trail for just over 3 miles.  This is a class 1 trail that is well maintained.  Spikes are recommended in winter.

After hiking for 3 miles I came to a junction for the experimental forest and Barr Camp. Here I stayed on Barr trail, turning left.  The trail became an ice skating rink here, but not for long.

I only stayed on this trail for a few yards, turning left onto unmarked trail 706.  This trail can be difficult to notice if you aren’t looking for it, and this is the first time I’ve seen tire tracks on this road.  It looks to be an old 4WD road that leads to a functional pipeline, and these tracks looked to be the first made here in quite a while. 

I followed Trail 706 for about a mile and a half as it wound around the south side of the mountain.

The road ended and I crossed this pipeline bridge.  Gingerly.  I don’t think this bridge has many seasons left.

After crossing the bridge I picked up the trail again and followed it a short distance to the cog railway.

Once making it to the Cog Railway there’s a sign saying from here on out it’s private property

No matter though, because I wasn’t heading up the Cog.  Instead, I crossed the tracks, passing this sign

I then headed south, aiming for the ridge and continuing south until I reached Marys Mountain

This required a lot of bushwhacking, and the brush was thick in areas

When I came to the top of the ridge there was a rock outcropping.  I climbed to the top, only to realize the summit was on the outcropping further south.  So, basically, don’t climb the first outcropping you see.

Instead, skirt it to the left and climb to the proper summit.  Here I am, on the correct summit, looking back

It was cold and windy on the summit, so I placed a summit register at the highest point, and turned and headed towards Sheep Mountain.

Here’s an overall view of the route to Sheep Mountain from Marys Mountain.  Take a good look from here because there are a lot of rock formations to navigate

To do this I had to lose 820’ of elevation as I descended northeast towards the creek and Dark Canyon

Once at the low point I crossed the creek and continued heading northeast towards the summit of Sheep Mountain.

There was a lot of bushwhacking and rocks to contend with here as well

The summit was rocky as well.  I walked all over the summit just to make sure I truly summited.

Here’s looking back at Marys from Sheep Mountain.  Statistics say Marys Mountain is taller than Sheep Mountain, but to me, Sheep felt taller.

Once again, I left a summit register and was on my way

This time I headed northwest down the slope, aiming for the cog railway below. 

Sections here were steep, and I was glad I’d hiked Marys first.

Once back near the cog I once again crossed the creek on a log near a picnic table, and picked up Trail 706

I followed Trail 706, crossed the sketchy pipeline bridge again, and continued on to Barr Trail.

Once on Barr Trail I followed it east for 3 miles, back to the Barr Trail parking lot.

I made it back to the parking area at noon, making this a 12.77 mile hike with 4823’ of elevation gain in 6 hours.  I really liked this route, and recommend it instead of hiking the cog.

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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