ApproachOnce at the parking lot, look for a gate blocking an old dirt road which runs behind the outhouses. Follow the dirt road for a short distance until reaching a creek. Cross the creek and turn right on the signed trail entering the Charon's Garden Wilderness. Follow this trail for about a mile, crossing a large streambed. The trail will climb up onto a low plateau where the entire Charon's Garden Wilderness and Sunset Peak will come into view. When you have hiked approximately one mile from the parking lot (and up on the plateau) you will need to leave the trail and hike northwest toward Sunset Peak. The GPS coordinates where you leave the trail are: N34.72771 W98.73811. The approach is now over and you will now begin a cross-country trek and bushwhack up the mountain.
Route DescriptionAt the base, continue to work around groves of scrub oak. Climb up the boulder-strewn east slope. The final 100 ft or so is fiercely guarded by a band of thick scrub oak and shrubbery. A little meandering may be required to find a route through the scrub. A little boulder hopping and skirting will find you on the summit.
Once on the main summit to the south, reverse your path down the east slope until through the band of scrub oak. When through the oak, begin working your way north and descend down the north slope of the main summit. Cross a small drainage and head directly up the south slope of the middle summit. The middle summit block is guarded by a rock cliff on the south side, so traverse around to the east slope of the middle summit before making your final summit assault. A little boulder hopping is necessary for the middle summit and a cairn will greet you on top.
To get the final northern summit, drop down a little on the east slope of the middle. When the path looks clear, head north toward the northern summit, again avoiding scrub oak bands. Eventually, though, you'll have to negotiate the thick scrub oak below the final summit block. Bushwhack through the scrub on the east side, then do a minor scramble to the boulder-covered summit.
Rather than reverse your route, head directly east from the north peak. Don't expect to exit the scrub until almost at the base of the mountain. Then meander east across the prairie towards Elk Mountain. Cross the deep creek and intersect the main trail about a quarter-mile from the trailhead.
Essential GearNo matter what time of year, wear long pants. All but the first of this hike is a total bushwhack and your legs will never forgive you if you wear shorts.
Take a 1/24 USGS quad topo map and a compass and know how to use them.
Highly recommend insect repellent in early fall and spring to ward off the ticks and chiggers. Bring lots of water if the weather is warm. Water sources in the Charon's Garden Wilderness are questionable because of use by bison, longhorn, elk and deer.