OverviewSheep Mountain (8,450 feet) offers a mild grade hike to an uninspiring summit; however, its nearly 5 miles of singetrack wends its way though several ecologic zones and its nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain from the floor of the Big Thompson canyon offers excellent views of the plains to the east and the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the west.
This mountain makes for a good spring reintroduction to dirt and rock after a winter spent on skis or snowshoes, it would make a fantastic trail-runner’s area, and its typical foothill-style boulders provide ample opportunity for off-trail scrambling.
Sheep Mountain seems to share many features of the Boulder Group and its northern neighbors Greyrock Mountain and Horsetooth Mountain, and this should come as no surprise as the mountain is situated directly between them in the foothills of the Front Range. The gnarly rock formations on its flanks are reminiscent of those that are so lustily climbed on the slopes near Green Mountain, South Boulder Peak, and Bear Peak, while the lumpy, high-forehead look of the patchwork of treeless slopes matches the feel of any typical Ft. Collins-area scramble.
The mountain is one of a pair of named, forested peaks along the south side of Hwy 34 as it passes through Big Thompson canyon between the Dam Store and Drake. The other is Stone Mountain (7,655), almost 1,000 feet Sheep Mountain’s junior.
The path of least resistance to the top of Sheep Mountain is the 4.75-mile “Summit Adventure Trail” that begins at the trailhead next to the highway. While this trail offers little in the way of adventure, and leads to less than a summit than one might like to see at the terminus of a summit trail, the route does take the hiker through a high desert of yucca and prickly pear; a ponderosa pine forest; a mile of wicked granite boulders; a pleasant grassy meadow; and finally a fir, spruce and pine forest to a man-sized cairn that marks the peak.