Looking at the terrain above the ladder
This short route leverages a high start linked by a moderate, increasingly steep bushwack to a Class 3+ chimney. The route then loops over the summit to follow an established route, taking in additional, different scenery, before bushwacking back down the ridge to parking. Some occasionally steep but fun scrambling on solid granite is included as well as a descent down a wriggly wooden ladder. This route provides tons of bang for the buck.
About 1 mile
About 525 feet net gain from vehicle to summit
Loop Route Map
Cedar Mountain is in the far northwestern corner of Teller County near the border with Park, Douglas and Jefferson Counties. Major access roads are US Hwy 24 to the south and CO 67 to the east. Teller County Road 51 turns into Forest Service Road 360, which is Cedar Mountain Road. Take care to remain on Cedar Mountain Road (not being fooled by misleading turnoffs) and follow the dirt road to the saddle to the northwest of the peak.
Regardless of approach, you will need a 4x4 to reach this peak. A high-clearance V8 truck, van or SUV may
do in dry conditions, but if the skies open up and the dirt roads turn to soup, your stay will involuntarily extended. The roads approaching this peak go from relatively tame to steep, rutted and washed out and a 4x4 with descent clearance is the only sane option.
Route DescriptionThe route is described here traveling in a clock-wise direction.
• Depart your 4x4 at the saddle to the west-northwest of the Cedar Mountain summit. The rocky little peak looms invitingly above you.
Cedar Mountain from the West
• Head directly through sparse brush and small trees toward the summit, trending east-southeast.
o The terrain begins low-angel but quickly steepens.
Toward the chimney
• As the slope steepens, begin easy scrambling on random granite blocks, negotiating around occasional brambles.
• Reaching the wall of the summit ridge, there will be a few options for ascent. I selected a chimney that provides Class 3+ scrambling on sturdy rock. A few desert briars make for slightly more interesting navigation, but the holds here are large, sturdy and plentiful.
Looking up the chimney
• Exit the chimney and walk a few easy feet to the huge summit cairn topped by a cross.
Summit cairn and cross
• After enjoying the summit, head southeast along the scrambly, rambling ridge along a cairned route.
o The scenery, terrain and plantlife is more “desert redrock” than “Pikes Peak alpine” and is joy to explore. A footpath is easily discernable in the dirt, while cairns mark the route when traversing rock.
Upper ridgeline south of the summit
• Not long into your descent you will encounter a steep little wall you must descend into a notch. There is a wriggly, home-made ladder available or you may opt to use a more reliable/solid metal peg to use as a foot hold. Within these in situ aids, this small face would be a short burst of low 5th-class climbing.
Looking down the ladder
Foot peg to ease passage Typical conditions Looking back up at the ridge from within the exit notch
• Climb out of the other (southern) side of the notch and continue over neat terrain of granite blocks, bulges, rocks and slabs (following a cairned route).
• At a low notch in the ridge, where a break in the southwest facing rock slope of Cedar Mountain relents, leave the cairned/worn path and descend a gully.
• After exciting the rocky area and reaching smoother ground, begin trending northwest to your vehicle parked at the saddle, traversing the low-angle southwestern slopes of Cedar Mountain.
• Regain the saddle where you parked your vehicle.
The "ladder pitch" on Cedar Mountain
In addition to your standard accoutrement of day-hiking gear, you may find scrambling gloves helpful and boots or shoes with good tread very useful. Bring plenty of water as this is a dry hike with little to no shade.