Sentinel Point- 12,527

RT Length: 8.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 2963’

I’ve wanted to hike Sentinel Point for a while now, but haven’t because it isn’t ranked.  I’ve been kind of waiting for a good excuse to hike it, and today was the day; My oldest daughter flew out from Georgia for the weekend, and this morning I took her to the airport to fly back home, so I needed a hike I could start later in the day.

Oh, and today’s Halloween, so of course I wore a pumpkin dress.  It was also quite cold, so there weren’t a lot of people parked at the Horsethief Falls trailhead.  I gathered my gear, and was on the trail at 9:30am.  The trail is clearly visible from the parking area.

I’d heard it was harder to do this hike counter-clockwise, so of course, that’s the way I chose to do it.  (Spoiler alert:  it is harder this way).  I followed the wide, class 1 trail for 1.4 miles, to the end of Horsethief Park, where the trail abruptly ended at a small waterfall.

At the first junction, I continued straight, heading east

At the second junction, I again continued straight, heading east.   I was also able to see Sentinel Point from here

I was following Horsethief Falls trail

The trail was class 1, until it abruptly ended at what I’m assuming is Horsethief Falls

It was flowing at a trickle.  I crossed the falls, then immediately started ascending the hillside, heading directly east.

From the falls area, I hiked east 1.5 miles to treeline, bushwhacking the entire way, doing my best to avoid the boulders. 

Here’s a picture of the route from later in the day.  You can see the obstacles to be avoided are mainly large boulders/rock outcroppings. 

This is the route I took, gaining about 2000’ of elevation in 1.5 miles

Once at treeline, I followed the ridge north

I was trying to get onto the other side of this rock formation

Once I did, finding the route to the summit proved difficult.  I kept trying to climb the rocks to find a summit, but they kept topping out.  My advice:  stay low and go further north than you think you should before trying to ascend to the summit.  Also, if you do this, you’ll find cairns.  Here are some photos…

This is the entrance area to the summit.  The cairn is circled in red

This was difficult class 3 climbing, but sketchy due to the little bit of unavoidable snow/ice. 

I summited Sentinel Point at 11:30am.  Well, I wasn’t sure if I’d actually summited, because I couldn’t find a cairn/summit register, but I did rock-hop all over those rocks to make sure I hit the summit at some point.  The rocks were stable, but didn’t have a large surface area, so I wasn’t able to get good pictures.  I got a video at one of the most stable areas (and it’s a terrible video, but you get the point)

I was making this a loop, and continued heading north towards the tundra

Here’s looking back at Sentinel Point

From here I actually found a bit of a trail, and followed it north, down to treeline.  Here are some pictures of the route

When I made it past the boulders to treeline, cairns started dotting the route.  Tons of cairns.  While the trail wasn’t well established, there were countless cairns to guide the way back to an actual trail.  Yes, this would have been the easier way to summit.  Cairns are circled in red

I slid down this on my butt, as walking down it seemed sketchy

It should be noted, there were several campsites below treeline along the trail, in case you’re interested in making this an overnight adventure

Once below treeline, I followed the trail northwest.  As I said before, there were tons of cairns to guide the way

Following the cairns eventually brought me to trail 704C, the Ring the Peak trail.  I followed this trail south back to make this a loop.

I made it back to the trail I hiked in on (704A), turned right, and followed it back to the trailhead

I made it back to my truck at 1:30pm, making this an 8.1 mile hike with 2963’ of elevation gain in 4 hours.

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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