Round-Trip Length: 4.5 miles | Start-End Elevation: 12,000' - 14,036' | Elevation Change: +2,150' | Difficulty: Class 2
In summer, you can drive all the way to the upper trailhead at 12,000', but in winter the Sherman road is closed at the intersection with County Road (CR) 2. After leaving CR 2, continue 3 miles up the Sherman road to 12,000', below the mine buildings. Because this is an unmarked trailhead, the first priority is to locate the trail that leads across the basin. Find the small road that turns down and back to the right below the side of the main road. This is the best place to start. Walk down this road and look for the trail that starts on the left after about 50 yards. Photo #1 was taken on the main road looking down at the area. The trail drops down past a wooden electric pole and heads south toward the stream below. There are a few spots where the trail has been washed away. Stay with the trail as it weaves southeast through willows to reach the east end of Iowa Gulch. Continue south and southwest on the trail as it climbs up onto talus. The trail becomes thin in some areas but it's fairly easy to follow. Continue to the gully that drops down between Mt. Sherman and Mt. Sheridan. The trail reaches the gully near 12,400'.
Round-Trip Length: 6.43 miles (distance may vary slightly by route) | Elevation Change: +850' net elevation gain | Skill Level: Moderate
Starting across the road (to the north) from the public parking area near Piney Lake Lodge, hike eastwards towards Piney Lake. Take in the massive Gore mountain range spread out before you. The trail passes through grassy meadows on the north side of the lake and follows along the broad river valley. Piney River cuts a sinuous path through shrubs and turf that turn brilliant colors in the fall. The path is smooth and ascends gently at first.
After entering the first of the small aspen groves, the incline steepens as the trail begins to climb the base of the hillside. Negotiate a few switchbacks and use log planks to cross burbling streams. Enjoy good views across the valley at the craggy rock faces. Enter a few stretches of deep shady evergreen forest and then pop out for good views of the rugged Gore Range.
Eventually, you'll reach the cataracts, or cascades that rush between a narrow rock chasm. The sunny smooth rocks near here make a great picnic spot. Most people make this their turn-around point, but you can keep hiking along Piney River to Upper Piney Lake, or over West Booth Pass and connect with the Booth Creek Trail. The trail gets much rougher and more difficult beyond the cascade.
Round-Trip Length: 8.8 miles (distance may vary slightly by route) | Start-End Elevation: 10,010' - 12,390' (max elevation on Fancy Pass) | Elevation Change: +2,380' net elevation gain (+2,740' total elevation gain on loop) | Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuousmax elevation on Fancy Pass)