Mount Sniktau (13,240ft.) is a 13er mountain located in Colorado’s central Front Range, within the Arapaho National Forest. Located on the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, Mount Sniktau is extremely close to Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and offers an excellent introduction to 13er hiking. Indeed, an adventure to the summit of Mount Sniktau is very straightforward and relatively easy in comparison to many other Colorado 13er and 14er mountains.
The standard route to the summit of Mount Sniktau is via its Southwest Ridge. The route begins at the parking area off of the east side of Loveland Pass Road (US-6), right at Loveland Pass. At 3.7 miles roundtrip, with approximately 1,250ft of elevation gain, the hike is mostly along a Class 1 trail with a small bit of scrambling at the summit. If you’re looking for a longer hike and bigger challenge, consider adding in nearby 13,427ft. Grizzly Peak.
HIKE REVIEW SERIES: Mount Sniktau
Mount Sniktau, located in Colorado’s Arapaho National Forest, is named after Edwin H. N. Patterson, who was a notable Colorado journalist, editor, and friend of author Edgar Allen Poe. In 1875, Patterson became editor of the “Colorado Miner” magazine in Georgetown, CO. On occasion, Patterson would use the pen name of Sniktau, which he had said was bestowed upon him by Native Americans. However, others have inferred that Patterson took the pen name from another journalist, W. F. Watkins, who went by Sniktaw (a reverse spelling of Watkins).
Either way, Mount Sniktau is named in honor of Patterson’s pen name and his contributions to Colorado history. At an elevation of 13,240ft., Mount Sniktau is an incredibly popular 13er given its location on the Continental Divide and proximity to the Denver metro area.
- Summit Elevation: 13,240ft.
- Range: Front
- Sub-Range: Central Front
- Location: Arapaho National Forest
- Nearest Town: Silver Plume
- Route: Southwest Ridge
- Class: 1
- Type: Out-and-Back
- Trailhead: Loveland Pass
- Trailhead Elevation: 11,990ft.
- Route Length: 3.6 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,250ft.
The Class 1 Southwest Ridge route to Mount Sniktau begins at the top of Loveland Pass, across the road from the Continental Divide sign on Loveland Pass Road (US-6). The trailhead has a parking area for about 30-40 vehicles, but given the close proximity to the Denver area, only the earliest of arrivals are likely to secure a parking spot here during peak season (and even during winter when backcountry skiing is popular).
From the Loveland Pass parking area, the route is almost completely along a Class 1 trail, save for some simple scrambling to Mount Sniktau’s summit. At about 1.0 mile into the hike along the Mount Sniktau Trail, a junction is reached with the Mount Sniktau Trail heading to the left and the Grizzly Peak Trail heading to the right. Head left to continue the ascent toward Mount Sniktau for about another 1.0 mile and scramble up to the summit for some amazingly vast views.
From I-70, take exit 216 for US-6 W toward Loveland Pass. Pass the Loveland Ski Area as you head up US-6 W (Loveland Pass Road), which is very steep and windy. Stay on US-6 W for about 4.5 miles until reaching the Loveland Pass Continental Divide sign on the west side of the road and the main parking area and trailhead on the east side.
The hike to Mount Sniktau begins at the parking area on the east side of Loveland Pass Road, opposite the Continental Divide sign. Because this is a popular tourist spot, as well as a great place to hike, this parking area fills quickly. The parking area at the trailhead has enough spaces for around 30-40 vehicles, so arrive early to get a good spot. If these spots are filled, head south on Loveland Pass Road a bit for some additional parking areas on the east side of the road; however, parking here will require adding some distance to the hike.
There are no nearby camping options around the Loveland Pass area. However, if you are looking for a campsite and don’t mind a longer drive, try the Peak One Campground located on the Dillon Reservoir near Frisco, CO. It’s a beautiful campground about 30 minutes from the pass and sites are about $20/night.
Dogs are permitted on leash. There is a little bit of scrambling required to reach the summit of Mount Sniktau, which could pose challenges for some dogs. If you do opt to bring your pet, please be considerate of others by keeping your pet on leash and picking up/packing out any dog waste.
Always check the weather forecast before venturing into alpine country. Thunderstorms and lightning are frequent occurrences in Colorado during the summer time. Plan ahead and if the weather does not look ideal, try your Mount Sniktau 13er summit adventure for another day. Safety first!
RECOMMENDED HIKING APPAREL AND GEAR
We recommend bringing along a topographical map of the area, such as the “National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for Idaho Springs and Loveland Pass.” You’ll be able to see US-6 W on most of this hike, but a good topo map is always nice to have in addition to a GPS device, if you’re using one. In addition, we included a couple of our favorite field guides for plant and bird identification to aid in the enjoyment your outdoor adventure. Lastly, we included Gerry Roach’s “Colorado Thirteeners: From Hikes to Climbs” guidebook, which does not cover Mount Sniktau specifically, but does provide an amazing amount of information on other 13er hikes in Colorado that may be of interest.
- Trails Illustrated Map – Idaho Springs, Loveland Pass
- Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide
- Sibley Birds West: Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
- American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of Colorado
- Mammals of Colorado Field Guide
- Roadside Geology of Colorado
- Colorado’s Thirteeners: From Hikes to Climbs
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