This route, in my opinion, is the best way to climb Redcloud and Sunshine together while getting to also bag Colorado's 299th tallest peak. I always believe it is much nicer to do a loop versus an out and back.
The trail begins at the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead at 10,400 Ft.
It takes you over Sundog to Sunshine and the final summit of Redcloud, then descending the easier Northeast ridge of Redcloud.
During a part of the trip you will travel next to Silver Creek, the water is a milky silver color.This is due to the Calcium content. There are also many smaller tributaries that drain into Silver creek, some of these are a red color because of the Iron content.
Silver Creek and a small tributary.
The summit of Sundog offers excellent views. You can see Redcloud first, then Sunshine comes into view, allowing you to see almost the entire loop. Also the views of Handies are excellent.
Directions to the trailhead can be found here on the Sundog page
Total round trip mileage: 9.1
Elevation gain: 4,450
Beginning at the Silver Creek\Grizzly Gulch trailhead, head northeast on the Silver Creek trail. The trail meanders through spruce and aspen and joins Silver Creek.
Looking back to Handies peak on the Silver Creek trail
At 1.5 miles you will see a cairn and a faint trail on the other (south)side of silver creek. This is also the same spot where the South fork of the Silver Creek joins Silver creek. This trail runs on the east side (left) of the south fork and leads to the gulch below Redcloud and Sunshine.
Cross Silver Creek and Take this trail for about 200 feet, then head west, crossing the south fork (there is a faint trail) up the dirt , into the trees and just stay high, gaining the ridge that leads to Sundogs summit.
This is the cairn that signals the entrance for the trail.
It is important to find this trail because on the way up from the trailhead there are many ridges that seem like they may be the ones that lead to Sunshine but these look sharp and it is questionable where they go and how difficult they may be.
Once you have gained the ridge (still in the scattered trees) just follow the highline and you will find yourself above treeline with excellent views all around. The direction from here will be obvious, the north ridge to the summit of Sundog can be seen with ease. Climb the class 2+ ridge to the summit of sundog.
Above treeline viewing the north ridge of Sundog that leads to the summit
Redcloud and Sunshine can easily be seen from here. An excellent way to view them before climbing.
Climbing the ridge near the summit of Sundog
Descend Sundog heading southeast, there will be some class 2+ downclimbing to reach the saddle between Sundog and Sunshine.
While downclimbing, pay attention to Sunshines northeast face. In no snow conditions, you can see many trails through the talus that lead to Sunshines summit. Pick one.
This is on descent of Sundog. Sunshine is ahead.
We opted to gain Sunshines northeast ridge as soon as possible as, for us, this is more fun. The ridge is class 2+ with some decent exposure on the southwest side. once you have summited Sunshine the more difficult parts of the trip are over. Descend towards Redcloud (the trail is well worn) over the ridge and up the south side of Redcloud. This is another fine time to view yor accomplishments as Sundog rests below with so many San Jaun peaks in your view.
Near Redclouds summit, The "flattop is Coxcomb followed by Wetterhorn and Matterhorn
Descend the northeast ridge of Redcloud to the saddle where you pick up the Silver creek trail. Follow Silver Creek to the spot where you turned off and then retrace your steps to the trailhead. This completes what I would consider a classic 14'er traverse!
Bring the appropriate gear for the season. Drink alot of water, especially if you are not used to elevation.
A copy of Gerry Roach's Colorado's Fourteeners is always a good decision. I read that book just for fun.