Northwest Slopes

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.22860°N / 105.5895°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Difficulty: Steep walk up with brief Class 2 scramble at summit
Sign the Climber's Log


RouteTopo by Jeremy Hakes

This short but sweet (and steep) route up the northwest slope of Sugarloaf D will surely test the hiker's legs and lungs. Accessible year round, this steep little bushwack quickly lifts the hiker above the crowd hovering along the shores of the Tarryall Reservoir to quiet, rocky solitude. Use caution around livestock and be wary of getting sidetracked by the numerous livestock and wildlife trails wrapping around the mountain.

Approximate roundtrip mileage: 1.25 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 700 feet

Note: After examining the topographic maps and looking at this mountain from all angles the hiker may decide the eastern slope is the way to go. Our experience is that the eastern slope of Sugarloaf Mountain D is well-guarded by stony fins and rock outcrops. This is not to say the eastern slope route cannot be done; this is simply to say we found the steep but relatively outcrop-free northwestern slope to be the path of least resistance.

Getting There

From Colorado Springs: Hwy 24 West to Lake George. Just past lake George, turn right (northwest) on Park County 77 (Tarryall Road) and follow it to the Tarryall Reservoir. Use caution with the minefields of potholes. Between dusk and dawn, deer and elk are incredibly numerous - watch your speed! From Park County Road 77 take #142 (generally northeast) up Potato Gulch approximately one mile and park.
Sugarloaf Mountain Summit, Puma Hills in the BackdropThe Sugarloaf Mountain D Summit with the Puma Hills in the Backdrop.
25 May 2008

From Denver: Take Hwy 285 to the town of Jefferson and turn left on Park County 77 to the Tarryall Reservoir. (Keep an eye out for free range cattle.) From Park County Road 77 take #142 (generally northeast) up Potato Gulch approximately one mile and park.

  • While rough in spots, #142 up Potato Gulch should be passable in dry weather to drivers of high-clearance vehicles for the first mile to the suggested parking area.

  • After leaving state land but before reaching federal land, #142 briefly crosses a private landholding. Be respectful and close both gates behind your vehicle as you proceed.

  • Ranchers run cattle up this gulch. Use common sense when interacting with these animals, especially the bulls or cows with calves. Do not let your dog loose near livestock.

Route Description

After parking your vehicle about one mile up Potato Gulch and far enough off #142 for other vehicles to safely pass...

Sugarloaf Topo Map
  • Find the driest, narrowest place to cross the creek in Potato Gulch. Warning: This area may be quite marshy during the Spring melt.

  • After leaving the marsh, begin heading generally southeast directly up the slope of Sugarloaf Mountain D.

  • Pass through tightly-packed, young-growth Aspen. These give way shortly to more wide-spread evergreens.

  • Briefly head almost due-south to line yourself up for the final summit push.

  • While the entire route remains steep, the relatively gentle footing of forest duff becomes increasingly rocky as you near the last 200 feet or so of the climb. Rock outcroppings begin to make micro-navigation more difficult.

  • As the slope narrows and becomes increasingly rocky, you'll approach the final summit scramble almost due-East.

  • Ahead of you are two twin summit rock piles (though these may look like a monolith from your vantage point). The true summit is to your right/south. Look for a weekness between the two and ascend the last few feet to the summit.

  • Top out on a suprisingly grassy and flat, but quite compact, summit and take in the views of mountains near and far.

  • Carefully retrace your steps back to your vehicle.

  • Resist the temptation to get sucked too far south on the mountain. Rock outcrops may funnel you south as the thinner vegegation on the southward slopes temps your feet with easier going.

Essential Gear

For safety and comfort, the following are recommended:
  • Long pants. I strongly recommend against shorts for this hike through deep woods and fallen timber over a rocky slope.

  • Topographic map

  • Compass

  • GPS

  • Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer (for backroad navigation)

  • Trekking pole(s)

  • Sturdy hiking boots with grippy soles and stiff ankle support

  • More water than you think you will need (this is a dry mountain)

  • First aid kit

  • Other standard backcountry essentials

External Links

Pike & San Isabel National Forests
Pike National Forest Recreation Map
Tarryall Reservoir from Sugarloaf SummitThe Tarryall Reservoir from
the Sugarloaf Mountain D Summit.
25 May 2008



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