Cutting across the vastness of South Park, a high elevation interountain basin, is a long hog-back ridge called Red Hill. Red Hill rises in a north-south orientation, parallel to and west of neighboring Reinecker Ridge. Red Hill Pass cuts across the northern reaches of the Red Hill ridge, just north of the summit.
The summit area is covered in sparse trees, but fantastic views from the ridge and slopes across South Park make the hike up this hill more than worth the effort. Centennial Thirteener Mount Silverheels looms nearby. Views across South Park to Centennial Horseshoe Mountain and many Tenmile-Mosquito Range neighbors will delight. The Guanella Pass area is visible from the top of Red Hill, including Square Top, Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans.
Rank: 2116th highest peak in Colorado
Prominence: 355 feet
USGS Quad: Fairplay East
Trails Illustrated Map: #110 Leadville / Fairplay
Rank & Prominence Source: List of John
Due to private property in the area, options to access Red Hill legally are limited. The below describes that approach to and ascent of the western slope route.
From Fairplay, go north on Hwy just 2 miles (past CR 16) to an unmarked gate right off the road. The gate is very non-descript. Per the Red Tape section, below, if you see a posted No Trespassing sign or “Welcome to Our Ranch” or any other signage, you are in the wrong place.
Closing the gate behind you, follow the un-marked road (which actually reveals remnants of pavement at one point in its history!) east-northeast to its apparent end at an ad-hoc shooting range and fire pit. Park here. Continue on foot in a primarily eastward direction across mostly level ground. Descend slightly to cross Crooked Creek, then begin gaining elevation up the western slope to the summit ridge. From here, explore the rocky outcrops to find the high point and enjoy the views.
From the “shooting range” parking:
Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Access to Red Hill is via a thin sliver of BLM land surrounded by private ranches. Take care to stay off of private land. Know that BLM land management / usage can be quite complicated, but while a rancher may lease grazing rights to the land or a mining operation may lease mineral rights, for instance, these leasing parties may not exclude any individual from public land nor dictate your use of these lands. Per the BLM: Authorized private use of federal land, such as livestock grazing, does not allow the lessee to post or sign the land as being private. The lessee of federal lands cannot deny legal access or charge an access fee for others to use such lands. Learn more here.
If you think you are illegally denied access to federal lands, you are asked to contact either the administering agency or use the Colorado toll-free hotline 1-800-332-4155 (for in-state use only).
Note that BLM land access rules are quite different from Colorado “State School Board” or “State Trust” lands (those green squares or “sections” shown on many maps), which require that visitors wishing to access these lands must obtain permission from the surface lessee.
which operate only during the summer months.
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Weather & Seasons
Winter & Spring: Due to proximity to Hwy 285, this peak is accessible even during snow season, though the hike from the road could be increased due to snow covering the approach drive across BLM land.
Summer: This peak would be hot and dusty during the summer and Hwy 285 traffic will be thick.
Fall: Fall is a pleasant time to visit Red Hill as the temperatures will be cooler and the aspen turning golden. Be aware of elk hunters during elk season and take appropriate precautions to avoid being mistaken for an ungulate.