Round Mt (Sheep Mt)

Location: Roosevelt National Forest, Big Thompson Canyon, Colorado
Access: From Loveland (Highways 34 x 287) take Hwy 34 west for 13.5 miles to the Round Mt Trailhead across from Viestenz-Smith Picnic Area.
Trailhead: NAD83 zone 13 475825e 4474450n  Elev: 5751'
Trail: A steep 4.5 miles to the summit of Sheep Mt through ponderosa/Douglas fir forest. 2,730í gain
Map: USGS 1:24K Drake
Fees: None
Dogs: Voice control
Weather:Current and recent conditions   Local Forecast

January 27, 2008
It doesnít make much sense, but thatís the way it is: The Round Mt Trail leads to Sheep Mt. Confusing, especially since I canít find a Round Mt anywhere in the area. 
I hiked this mountain during a  wonderful heat wave in late January when the mercury hit 55. Quite a change from the single-digits we were seeing just the week before. I started under a partly-cloudy sky from the trailhead, which sits at around 5,700í,  at 10:45. There was an astonishing lack of snow at the trailhead, and only marginal snow even up high. A strong Chinook wind was drying things out. The well-marked trail lead through ponderosa pine and Douglas fir on a north-face overlooking the Big Thompson for about a mile, then turned south and the canyon was largely lost from view. In this part of the Big Thompson, one can easily mistake himself as being in the Poudre Canyon further north. There were some patches of ice on the trail, and it made for some slips and slides, but overall it was pretty clear up to about 7,000 ft. Nice granite outcroppings lined many sections of the trail, and thereís a memorable section of trail that passes through a slice in the granite, whether natural or manmade I canít tell. I made it to the summit in about 2:15, and was a little disappointed at the almost complete lack of view. Only a narrow strip of horizon to the west was visible through the thick tree cover, allowing a glimpse of Longs, Meeker, Otis, Hallet and maybe a couple of others. The wind was blowing like a banshee up there, even with the trees. A rock pyramid marked the true summit, complete with summit log. I ate lunch a few dozen feet away with a few more trees around me to block the wind, then trekked back down the trail. About 500 yards down, I turned northeast and hiked through the trail to a nice granite knob that had a much better view than the summit. Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. Though the wind was ferocious, I enjoyed the little side trip, from where I could see almost all of Loveland, everything to the south and much of the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mt National Park. Though I tried to drink plenty of water, the brisk hike, dry air and strong wind conspired to dehydrate me, and I felt fairly crappy by the time I made it back to the car at around 3:15, for a total hiking time of around 4.5 hours.


Lichen on granite
Big Thompson Canyon

Big Thompson Canyon

Granite outcroppings along the Round Mt Trail
Eastern flank of Sheep Mt from the Round Mt Trail
Summit of Sheep Mt
Longs Peak from near Sheep Mt summit
cut through the granite

Panorama from near the summit of Sheep Mt, kind of blurry because of wind

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