West Slopes/Iowa Gulch
From highway 24 in Leadville take a left on Monroe St. At the end of town, after about a quarter mile take a right on S. Toledo St. Follow S.Toledo for about 2 miles till you reach a fork in the road go left on CR 2b – this will be a bum by dirt road it is possibly by a 2WD vehicle though it’s recommended for an AWD Vehicle or 4WD.
The trail head is about 3 miles up the road, here there are a few small areas to park along with several pull outs along road.
The trail head isn’t marked with a sign so make sure you follow the trail the goes through the basin and not the 2 track road. It will easily be visible from the parking lot. The trail winds through the basin and some willows, as the trail begin it’s ascent you will wind through some small boulders and talus fields. These are marked with carins and the trails is well defined. Here the trail is steep with loose dirt and rock. After about a mile you will hit a trail junction make a left to continue up the trail, going straight will take you to the Fairplay trail head of Mt Sherman. continue heading up the trail. The grade will remain steep and rocky, there is some loose footing as you continue up so be mindful of your steeps. There are two to three false summits leading to the top. With less than 3/4ths of a mile to go there is a mild ridge line with some exposure for about a quarter mile. Again watch your footing if there is ice or snow on the rocks. After the short ridge line the trail will flatten out to the summit. From there enjoy the views Of Leadville and the Sawatch Range as well as FairPlay and nearby Breckenridge. Head on down the same way you came up being mindful of your footing.
Climbing your first mountain or 14er is an exciting and rewarding experience! You’ll get the achievement of seeing the world from above and the feel-goods of the endorphins from the exercise. However, the mountains aren’t a walk in the park, and getting down is mandatory. Some situations require extra caution and a little know how. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to get to the summit and back safely.
Whether you are training for a race or simply indulging in all the wilderness has to offer, there are a variety of factors, some constant, and some changing, that are likely to have an impact on your journey. Knowing these factors can help ensure your safety and get you back to the trailhead safely.