Silver Creek Route—use of this route will help to reduce impacts to this Fourteener’s fragile alpine environment. For detailed information about this route including photos, maps, and elevation profiles, click here.
Route Information and Additional Resources
Sunshine Peak is generally climbed in conjunction with Redcloud Peak. The trailhead is approximately 20 miles west of Lake City, CO, and is clearly marked on the north side of the road. Follow Silver Creek Trail to a pass at 13,000 feet, and ascend Redcloud’s northeast slope. Approximately two and one-half miles from the trailhead the trail switchbacks to the ridge above (trail directional sign located here). Please stay on the trail for a gentler, more environmentally sound route to the ridge above, where the trail turns southwest toward Red Cloud Peak. From the summit of Redcloud, continue south on a ridge trail to the summit of Sunshine.
Return over Redcloud. In the saddle between Red Cloud and Sunshine Peaks there is an apparent ‘descent’ into the South Fork drainage that looks very inviting. It is steep, dangerous and contains difficult talus. Once you take this wrong trail, it is extremely difficult to retrace your steps back to the saddle to access the safer route.
The above information does not replace the need to consult additional maps and Colorado Fourteener Guidebooks for more detailed route descriptions. We suggest checking multiple resources before departing on any hike. Keep in mind that not all guidebooks list this recommended route and that each guidebook’s description or route name may vary slightly.
Peak Specific Environmental and Safety Concerns
It is recommended that this route be hiked during the summer months (July or August) after the snow has melted. However, if snow is encountered on the trail, hike on the snow until the trail is visible and then continue on the trail. Because alpine vegetation is extremely susceptible to impacts, especially when wet, please stay on the trail at all times. The strong tendency is to leave the trail for a “straight up the mountain” approach which may be quicker, but will cause erosion and will damage the fragile tundra plants.
Minimum impact camping is permitted at the trailhead and along the trail. If camping at the trailhead, please locate the site at least 100 yards from the parking area in the trees along the first part of the trail. A restroom is provided for your convenience. When camping farther along the trail, please locate the site below tree line at least 200 feet from the trail and water so that others are not impacted by your site.
When hiking/backpacking in this area, it is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thundershowers. It is best to get an early start and plan to be off the peaks by noon or 1:00 PM t o avoid lightning strikes.