This straight-forward, short route leverages an existing 4x4 road most of the way. The 4x4 road gives out when the eastern slope of Soldier Mountain steepens but, surprisingly, a well-graded footpath curves gently south before topping out on the ridge. The trail mostly peters-out on the ridge-top, but well-spaced trees and small rocks make the ridge pleasant to explore.
Roundtrip Mileage: About 3.5 miles
Cumulative Elevation Gain: About 290 ft. (thought net elevation gain will be greater due to rolling terrain)
From Monument: Follow Mount Herman Road (FS 320) for 12.5 miles to Rampart Range Road (FS 300). Turn left/north and follow Rampart Range Road for .6 miles to FS 300U. Turn left/west on FS 300U, going as far as your vehicle will take you or as far as you care to drive vs. walk.
From Woodland Park: Take CR 22 north out of town to Rampart Range Road (FS 300) northbound. Follow Rampart Range Road northbound (for a combined total of 7.5 miles from Woodland Park) to the intersection with Mount Herman Road (FS 320). From this intersection, continue north on Rampart Range Road for .6 miles to FS 300U. Turn left/west on FS 300U, going as far as your vehicle will take you or as far as you care to drive vs. walk.
Notes on these U.S. Forest Service Roads
|Rampart Range Road (FS 300)||This is a wide, graded dirt road suitable to almost all passenger vehicles. I have even seen road motorcycles (not dirt bikes) on this road. The worst objective hazard on this road will be drivers that are speeding, careless, drunk or some combination of these.|
|Mount Herman Road (FS 320)||This road is semi-graded with some rutting, chug-holes and wash-boarding. Most notably, this road is very narrow in places with steep drop-offs. Uphill drivers not only have the right-away but also have the benefit of being on the “inside/mountain-side” of the curves. Downhill drivers are exposed to the steep drop-offs on the “outside” of the road, meaning this can be a more pleasant drive from Monument to Rampart Range Road than in the reverse.|
|FS 300U||This is a rustic, un-graded road, probably a mining or logging remnant. Though not particularly rocky, the road gets extremely narrow in places, constricted by trees or rock outcroppings. Only a very narrow vehicle, ATV or dirt bike could make it to the base of Soldier Mountain.|
- Begin west-bound on FS 300U.
- Follow rolling terrain for the first ½ mile or so.
- The route descends steeply toward a cross-road, FS 300V.
- Cross FS 300V and climb steeply back out of the small valley.
- The old road continues to meander west through Ponderosa Pine, Aspen and some Lodgepole or Limber Pine.
- Descend to a small saddle with Soldier Mountain rising immediately above you to the west.
- For a short while, the road becomes steep and rutted, then ends as the slope steepens.
- A surprisingly solid footpath veers off to the south (your left) and gently ascends the slope to the ridge.
- Head north along the ridge to find the highpoint.
- A cairn pile sits shortly after gaining the ridge from the footpath, but this does not seem to be the highpoint.
- Continue north along the ridge to find the highpoint.
- Be certain to enjoy the views from the far northern end of the ridge before returning south down the ridge.
- Additionally, a large meadow on the southwest slope of Soldier Peak provides great views of the surrounding areas, including Pikes Peak.
- Retrace your steps back down the eastern slope of the mountain to FS 300U, which will carry you back to your parked vehicle.
- Trail map (Trails Illustrated #137 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City) would meet most needs)
- Comfortable hiking boots or walking shoes
- Snowshoes after a heavy snowfall
- Water and snacks
- A camera to save memories of the high country views
- First aid kit
- Other standard backcountry essentials