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.
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