Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 40.12700°N / 105.624°W
Additional Information Elevation: 12304 ft / 3750 m
Sign the Climber's Log

Sawtooth Mountain Overview

Above photo submitted by jwclimbs

The Colorado Indian Peak Wilderness is home to many of the best hiking and climbing routes in the state. The Indian Peak Wilderness rests just south of Rocky Mountain National Park; it's basically an extension of its neighboring northern, national park. As Gerry Roach notes in his popular book "It is smaller than Rocky Mountain National Park, but no less spectacular."

Only two hours from Denver, the IPW is widely considered a popular destination for day hikers, so start early and you can get some solitude. Having experienced many big fourteeners and high thirteeners, I believe the 12er's and 11er's to be a bit more rewarding for personal reasons.

Heading north past the Brainard Lake turnoff on Colorado's scenic Peak-to-Peak Highway, you can't miss the distinct profile of Sawtooth Mountain. If you have seen it, you know which peak I'm talking about; for it has spawned curiosity for years. At an elevation of only 12,304 ft., Sawtooth Mountain should demand respect, for the RT is long (11.5 miles) and the vertical (3,200 ft.) certainly makes for a good workout.

Sawtooth Mountain offers a variety of routes from a class 1 walk up via Buchanan Pass, or a class 2+ route up its mile long east ridge. Technical climbing (.5.0-5.6) can be attempted on Sawtooth's south face but Gerry Roach notes that the 600 vertical ft. of rock might be too looses and bad for climbing. I will not describe the standard Buchanan Pass route; instead I will sell you on the excellent mile long East Ridge Route.

Beaver Reservior TH

This TH can is accessible from the north or the south. If approaching from the south, go north on Colorado 72 from the small town of Ward 2.6 miles to a turnoff on the left. I don't remember a sign. If approaching from the north, measure from the junction of Colorado 7 and Colorado 72 and go 7.6 miles south to the turn-off on the right. Once you turn on to the improved dirt road, continue 2.5 miles to Beaver Reservoir and you will drive down a cement dip used for overflow from Beaver Reservoir. Only .3 miles after the dip look sharp on the right for the TH. I have been to this trailhead twice; once the gate was open and the other time it was closed. I wouldn't count on it being open to drive the 4wd road.

Red Tape

Here is a summery of the Indian Peak Wilderness Rules and Regulations.

  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted, including bicycles.

  • A permit is required for camping in the wilderness area between June 1 and Sept. 15. Permits are issued for 19 travel zones within the Indian Peak boundaries. Permits are $5.00 at the following offices. For information or to apply for a use permit, contact the U.S. Forest Service, Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave., 303-541-2500, or the Sulphur Ranger District, 9 Ten Mile Drive, P.O. Box 10, Granby, CO 80446, 1-970-887-4100. For recorded information, call the Indian Peaks Wilderness Information Line at 303-541-2519.

  • Only a certain number of groups are allowed in each travel zone for overnight camping. Camping is limited to two weeks in any four-week period; the two weeks can be in any travel zone.

  • Organized groups (maximum size of 12) must have permit for camping or hiking at all times.

  • Campsites must be at least 100 yards from lakes and streams.

  • Fires are prohibited east of the Continental Divide. Fires are allowed in certain areas west of the divide.

  • Dogs must be leashed.



    Here is an excellent link for Colorado Camping Reservations. An additional reservation fee of $8.65 is charged for this service. It might be worth it.
  • For a list of every campground on the Peak to Peak Highway click here

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson - Oct 23, 2002 7:07 pm - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

The road referred to in the above text was once open to 4WD vehicles prior to the Indian Peaks area becoming a wilderness. Vern Garner and I (Aaron Johnson) had just bought new jeeps and on our first weekend out, we tested them on Mosquito Pass and the Coney Flats road, upon recommendation of a fellow four wheeler. Although the wilderness act had been passed, protocol was not yet in practice, probably due to public pressure to keep the road open as long as possible. At the time, I was not aware of the Wilderness Act. Little did I know this avid four wheeler would become a passionate hiker and climber!

The Coney Flats road was indeed a challenge for four wheelers, and a stream crossing we encountered there still rivals anything else I've seen in the state. I'm sure you'll agree the uploaded picture supports this statement.

We were able to drive up to the lakes near the east end of the east ridge of Sawtooth Mountain, and were probably among the last to do so. The area is now wilderness and can only be travelled by foot or horseback, which is definitely a very good thing.

silverplume - Sep 7, 2015 2:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Sawtooth trail access

As of late 2015 it's possible to approach Sawtooth from the east via either Coney Flats Road or Middle St. Vrain Road-- each are valid Forest Service motor vehicle usage trails. Each can be driven via licensed, high-clearance 4x4 vehicles when the trail gates are seasonally opened. These are moderately difficult 4x4 trails, and while a capable vehicle and driver are required, the trails can be successfully navigated to shorten the approach to Sawtooth from the east by several miles. Even so the round trip hike is likely to be 10-12 miles depending on the route chosen. Coney Flats and Middle St. Vrain trails form a loop connecting the Camp Dick campground to the north and private Beaver Creek Reservoir to the south. At the far western end of each trail where they connect is a semi-large parking area with a bridge that crosses Middle St Vrain Creek. This connects to a trail system that can be used to approach Sawtooth from the northeast via Buchanan Pass trail, or other less-used trails that cut uphill through the forest to access the east ridge of Sawtooth. Note that the terrain cutting through the forest and leading up to the alpine meadows on the eastern slopes of Sawtooth is heavily populated by black bears and elk.

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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.