Thunder Butte from Soldier Mountain
Soldier Mountain isn’t one of those forbidding, striking peaks a person daydreams about. It won’t strike fear into your heart as you gaze up at it. In fact, from the east, Soldier Mountain appears, dare I say, a bit disappointing.
But put yourself on Soldier’s long wooded summit ridge, and wonder down toward the far northwestern end of the summit area, and be rewarded with amazing views of the Hwy 67 corridor and beyond to the west. Thunder Butte
makes an especially powerful impression. Nearby Mount Deception
rises to the immediate north. Views to the west take in the Lost Creek Wilderness
and even further beyond to the high country.
North toward Mount Deception
Trails Illustrated Map:
Trails Illustrated #137 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City)
Rank and prominence information: Lists of John
Soldier Mountain sits in Teller County less than 5 miles as the crow flies due north of the center of the town of Woodland Park.
The combined elements of terrain and private property to the west leave only one sensible way to access Soldier Mountain and that is from Rampart Range Road (FS 300) to the east. FS 300U runs west from Rampart Range Road almost to the summit of Soldier Mountain, and where the road ends, a surprisingly solid use trail switches back up the mountain. FS 300U is on the west side of Rampart Range Road, .6 miles north of Mount Herman Road (FS 320).
Click on map to enlarge.
Follow Mount Herman Road (FS 320) for 12.5 miles to Rampart Range Road (FS 300). Turn left/north and follow Rampart Range Road for .6 miles to FS 300U. Turn left/west on FS 300U, going as far as your vehicle will take you or as far as you care to drive vs. walk.
From Woodland Park:
Take CR 22 north out of town to Rampart Range Road (FS 300) northbound. Follow Rampart Range Road northbound (for a combined total of 7.5 miles from Woodland Park) to the intersection with Mount Herman Road (FS 320). From this intersection, continue north on Rampart Range Road for .6 miles to FS 300U. Turn left/west on FS 300U, going as far as your vehicle will take you or as far as you care to drive vs. walk.
Notes on these U.S. Forest Service Roads
|Rampart Range Road (FS 300)||This is a wide, graded dirt road suitable to almost all passenger vehicles. I have even seen road motorcycles (not dirt bikes) on this road. The worst objective hazard on this road will be drivers that are speeding, careless, drunk or some combination of these.|
|Mount Herman Road (FS 320)||This road is semi-graded with some rutting, chug-holes and wash-boarding. Most notably, this road is very narrow in places with steep drop-offs. Uphill drivers not only have the right-away but also have the benefit of being on the “inside/mountain-side” of the curves. Downhill drivers are exposed to the steep drop-offs on the “outside” of the road, meaning this can be a more pleasant drive from Monument to Rampart Range Road than in the reverse.|
|FS 300U||This is a rustic, un-graded road, probably a mining or logging remnant. Though not particularly rocky, the road gets extremely narrow in places, constricted by trees or rock outcroppings. Only a very narrow vehicle, ATV or dirt bike could make it to the base of Soldier Mountain.|
There is little or no red tape in this part of the National Forest. This is a heavily used recreation area near major urban centers of the I-25 corridor. Do your part to tread lightly.
Pikes Peak from grassy meadow
Camping & LodgingSoldier Mountain is very close to the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Area, and not terribly far from Denver, particularly the southern suburbs. Most visitors to Soldier Mountain will come for the day then return home. However, below are some lodging details for those visiting from outside the area.
Rustic camping in “unofficial” campsites is available throughout the Rampart Range Road area, right off the main road and spur dirt roads off of it. Most notably, there are a few decent (albeit dry; haul your own water) campsites along FS 300U. These campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis and provide no services (they are entirely rustic). Be forewarned that proximity to the urban I-25 corridor means that crowding can be an issue, especially in the summer, and that unsavory characters are known to frequent this area. Be prepared for heavy ATV use, large crowds, drunkenness and casual firearms usage.
The National Forest Service operates three general-use campgrounds in its Manitou Park Recreation Area. The Manitou Park Recreation Area is located about 5 miles north of Woodland Park along Hwy 67. Below is information about these campgrounds as provided by the Forest Service.
|South Meadows Campground||Site has 64 camp sites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 8,000' elevation. Camping season is year round with a user fee of $15.00/per night/per site. The camp-ground has paved roads. Limited sites are reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777. Reservations may be made 240 days prior to arrival and there is a reservation fee. There is also a 2-night minimum stay if your reservation is for Friday or Saturday nights.|
|Colorado Campground||Site has 81 campsites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 7800' elevation. Camping season usually begins late May and runs until early September. The user fee is $15.00 per night/per site. This campground has paved roads. Limited site reservations can be made 240 days prior to arrival by calling 1-877-444-6777. There is a reservation fee. There is also a 2-night minimum stay if your reservations are for Friday or Saturday night.|
|Painted Rocks Campground||Area has 18 campsites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 7800' elevation. Camping season usually begins in May and runs through early September. A user fee of $13.00 per night/per site is charged. Limited sites are reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777 and can be made 240 days prior to arrival. There is a reservation fee.|West toward LCW and beyond Northwest from summit
A few simple hotels are available in Woodland Park, elevation 8,465, feet along with several RV sites and rental cabins.
For more information about area accommodations, visit The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce
Visitor Information page.
Weather & Seasons
The summit of Soldier Mountain can be enjoyed year-round. The relatively dry Rampart Range area receives modest snow (compared to the Colorado high country) and the gently-sloping, wooded flanks of Soldier Mountain mean low avalanche risk.
When little or no snow is on the ground, reaching the summit of Soldier Mountain can be short, pleasant jaunt with little elevation gain. In the winter, however, a snow-packed FS 300U means more mileage to the summit must be covered by foot. Furthermore, if Rampart Range Road (FR 300) is closed for the season (common in the winter due to snow and the spring due to wet snowmelt conditions), the mountain must be accessed from Hwy 67. The access point from Hwy 67 not only sits about 1,300 feet lower than the access point from Rampart Range Road (FR 300), but it requires very careful maneuvering to avoid a maze of private property. In sum, I would say if Rampart Range Road is closed due to snowpack or wet/mud conditions, just plan to do this peak some other time when conditions permit access from the east.