Sheep (Snow) mountain is a beautiful forested mountain that rises more than 2,000 out of the western edge of northern Colorado's Fraser Valley. Though this mountain has some serious vertical gain. It is overshadowed by the much larger 12ers and 13ers that rim the valley. However, despite its smaller stature, it forms an important part of the western skyline as seen from the town of Fraser. It is the green, twin tipped peak directly to the north of Byers and Ptarmigan Peak.
Sheep (Snow) Mountain is the highest point in the YMCA of The Rockies' Snow Mountain Ranch. Though on USGS maps the mountain is called Sheep Mountain the mountain has been unofficially renamed Snow Mountain in honor of the ranch. The name Sheep Mountain was given to the mountain because of the large amount of sheep that grazed on its slope at one time. The ranch that is now Snow Mountain Ranch was originally settled by the Just family at a time when the area was primarily sheep ranching country. Today cattle ranching has ousted the sheep but the mountain's name remains in tribute to those brave ranchers.
This mountain is below timberline, but offers fine views to the west, north and south. The views towards the Continental Divide are somewhat obscured by trees.
This mountain is a half day hike for most and is a good choice in winter when avalanche danger or bad weather threatens the higher surrounding peaks
Getting ThereOn Highway 40 between Granby and Tabernash, turn west on County Road 53, which is also the entrance to Snow Mountain Ranch. The mountain is on the property of Snow Mountain Ranch. Follow the road for 1.1 miles to the headquarters/program building. Since the route to the peak is on the property of the Snow Mountain Ranch (owned by the YMCA) you should enquire here as to if you need a day pass (if you are there during working hours 8-5 pm).
Continue on County Road 53 for 0.3 miles. Keep right on County Road 53 and drive another 1.3 miles to a three-way junction. Take the middle road posted for Columbine Point. Drive up to the top of hill to a parking lot at the Gaylord Reservoir. It is suggested that you park here since there isn’t much parking at the actual trailhead.
Red TapeThe mountain is on Snow Mountain Ranch's property and you must therefore abide by their rules. Pretty much basic backcountry etiquette take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
If you climb during working hours, you may need a day pass from the YMCA. This cost only $5 as of June 2009.
See below for their website:
Snow Mountain Ranch
CampingCamping is available in the ranch. Campgrounds are available from memorial day through september. There are two campsites on the ranch, Hopi and Iroquois. There are four types of tentsites in each campground.
Campsite-Type A 35$ (non-member price) includes water, electricity, and sewer.
Campsite-Type B 33$ (non-member price) includes water and electricity.
Campsite-Type C 31$ (non-member price) includes electricity.
Campsite Type D 25$ (non-member price) no amenities.
Outside the Snow Mountain Ranch, there are five campgrounds between Berthoud Pass and Winter Park. These are the campgrounds in order from Berthoud Pass north to Winter Park:
Second Creek Campground
Spruce Lodge Campground
For info on these campgrounds listed above, call the ranger station in Granby at 970-887-4100.
When to ClimbSheep Mountain can be climbed year round. In a normal year, the normal hiking season is from mid-June through sometime in October. Before mid June, expect there to be snow to walk through. This mountain should be a safe winter ascent with no avalanche danger if you stay on route and avoid any cornices on the ridge. Hunting is not allowed at Snow Mountain Ranch, so this may be a safe haven in hunting season.
Mountain ConditionsWEATHER FORECAST
Below is the climate summary for nearby Berthoud Pass at 11,315 feet elevation which is about the same elevation as Sheep Mountain. These are all averages, so expect more variation, but this will give you a good idea about the climate at higher elevations around Byers Peak. *National Weather Service Data 1950-1985.
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