There are many peaks in Colorado named Iron Mountain. This one resides at the very northern end of the Never Summer Range in northern Colorado. Iron Mountain probably gets its name from the reddish rock that it's formed from.
Iron Mountain sits on a general northwest-southeast ridge that runs from Cameron pass on the north down to Thunder Mountain on the south where it turns west to Lulu Mountain, Thunder Pass, and Static Peak. The eastern slopes of this ridge are vast, gentle, tundra slopes and the western slopes are steeper and craggy. This ridge seperates Jackson County on the west and Larimer County on the east. It also seperates Colorado State Forest on the west and Roosevelt National Forest on the east.
There are several different ways to access the summit of Iron Mountain. Most routes involve a walk-up, but some class-three scrambling can be found if you're willing to look for it. One of Iron Mountain's greatest features is the awsome view that it provides to the west of Nokhu Crags and the American Lakes Basin.
There are many different options for accessing Iron Mountain’s summit. Some of the most straightforward begin at Cameron Pass. For a gentle tundra stroll ascend straight up Iron Mountain’s northwest ridge from Cameron Pass. The first quarter mile or so is a steep bushwhack but once timberline is achieved it’s easy sailing along the eastern side of the ridge all the way to the summit.
Some class three scrambling can also be found. Instead of attaining Iron Mountain’s northwest ridge hike below it on the western side. Right below the highpoint to the northwest of Iron Mountain (this high point is known as "Table Iron" and is a ranked 12er) there is a large flat spot the size of a hockey rink. From this spot you can access a class three couloir that will lead to the top of Table Iron. The run-out of the couloir is scree slope and is probably easiest to climb when it is covered with snow.
A final option when coming from the Cameron Pass trailhead is dropping straight down to the west from the saddle between Iron Mountain and Table Iron. This is probably a much better route of descent than ascent. The crux of this route may be crossing Michigan Ditch at the bottom. During the fall, winter and early spring this is no big deal, but in the summer months the water in the ditch may be two feet deep and require some wading. Once across the ditch just follow the dirt road back to the trailhead.
Another viable option for accessing Iron Mountain is Trap Park to the northeast. Park at the Trap Lake Trailhead and hike southwest along Trap Creek and then all the way up to the saddle north of Iron Mountain.
The most common trailhead to access Iron Mountain is probably Cameron Pass. To get to Cameron Pass from Fort Collins go north on Highway 287 to "Ted’s Place" and turn west onto Highway 14. Follow Highway 14 for 60 miles to the top of Cameron Pass. There is a parking lot on the north side of the road. There is no fee to park in the parking lot but you will be asked to pay the $2/person day-fee if you proceed down the road along Michigan Ditch.
Another trailhead to start from is Trap Lake Trailhead. To get there from Fort Collins go north on Highway 287 to “Ted’s Place” and turn west onto Highway 14. Take Highway 14 west up Poudre Canyon to near the top of Cameron Pass (somewhere around 55 miles). Look for signs on the left indicating Long Draw Road. If you pass Joe Wright Reservoir you know you’ve gone too far. Go south on Long Draw Road until you come upon Trap Lake Trailhead on your right. Long Draw Road is closed during winter so this is only an option for a summer ascent.
Iron Mountain sits on the border between Colorado State Forest and Roosevelt National Forest. If you stay in Roosevelt National Forest no fees are required. If you venture into Colorado State Forest a $2/person fee is requested. Otherwise there are no regulations.
When To Climb/Mountain Conditions
Iron Mountain can be climbed all year round, though to avoid large amount of snow it is best climbed July through October.
For up-to-date mountain conditions try contacting Colorado State Forest or Roosevelt National Forest. The following weather forecast gives info for the town of Gould, Colorado which sits in North Park on the west side of Cameron Pass.
Contact Roosevelt National Forest - Canyon Lakes Ranger District
For information regarding Roosevelt National Forest or Long Draw Road contact the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. Here is the contact info I pulled off of their website (www.fs.fed.us/arnf/districts/clrd).
- Address: 1311 South College, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
- Phone: (970) 498-2770
- TTY: (970) 498-2727
- Fax: (970) 498-2769
Contact Colorado State Forest
Colorado State Forest State Park
2746 County Road 41
Walden, Colorado 80480
EMAIL: [email protected]