“A classic Sawatch run summiting two Colorado 14ers.”
— Tyler Prince
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
In winter, the road is usually closed many miles below the trailhead.
The land manager requests dogs be leashed. You'll see many dogs and few leashes.
This moderate 14er route combines two of the state's duller 14ers. Due to their proximity to Buena Vista and Salida, Shavano and Tabeguache are more frequently climbed than many of their neighboring peaks.
Need to Know
While only an intermediate run, this route is still 10.5 miles long round trip with over 5,000 ft of elevation gain. Much of your time running will be at high elevations with lots of sun exposure. Be prepared for a long day of 6-9 hrs depending on fitness and motivation.
With intermediate grades and decent trail down low, this is a good option for runners. Shortly before reaching treeline, however, the trail is fairly rocky, and the summit ridge up Shavano is likely too steep and rocky for serious running. Bring your good ankles for this one.
A mile or so north of Poncha Springs on US 285, turn west onto County Road 140 (roughly right across from the turn to the Salida airport). Drive 1.7 miles, turning right onto CO 250. Drive 4 miles to a fork in the road. From here, stay left, heading on CO 252 (forest road 252 per some signs). Drive 3 miles, passing a cattle guard just before coming to the trailhead. There is ample parking in this lot, and a bathroom right at the start of the trail. Turning left upon reaching the TH and driving about 100 yards will bring you to a large clearing with even more camping options.
From the trailhead, find the path behind the bathroom. Run about 150 yards through a clearing. Come to a junction with the Colorado Trail, turning right. Pass some cattle guards, and in about 0.25 miles, turn left onto the Mt. Shavano
Follow an excellent trail through the forest. To start, grades are minimal, and any large steps are cut in by trail crews and generally supported with logs. For about a mile, the trail remains easy to follow. At about 10,600 ft, pass a large rock on your right. A stream trickles through this area, which is saturated until early summer. From here, the trail becomes rocky and rooty. Cross a stream on your left at about 10,800 ft.
Continue on mediocre trail, switching back here and there before the trees begin to thin around 11,600. Before this point, there are a few clearings providing an excellent view of downtown Salida. At 11,800, put on your sunscreen and continue up an increasingly rocky and steep path. Run up some steep switchbacks for about 1.5-2 miles before reaching the saddle at 13,400 ft. Mt. Shavano
is to your right.
From here, it's an easy class 2 scramble on rocky, grassy ledges to the summit. The terrain is solid a`nd no helmet is necessary. Continue up on the ridge, heading north for about 700 vertical ft. The trail here is often vague, but the summit is obvious. The trail should get clearer just below the summit, and jogs just to the left of the high point. Leave it briefly to summit.
From the top of Mt. Shavano
, it's under a mile to Tabeguache Peak
. Leave the summit, running down clear, rocky trail toward yet another clear summit. Lose about 600 vertical, reaching a saddle at 13,500 ft. Angle left up 500 ft of rocky, unclear, class 2 trail to reach the top of Tabeguache Peak
. From here, the only realistic escape is the path from whence you came, so make sure the weather is decent before heading to this peak.
From the Tabeguache summit, turn around and do it all backwards. There's a lot of gain on this run, so expect the return up Shavano to be a bit brutal.
Flora & Fauna
The forest below Mt. Shavano
is dense with conifers and Aspens. Wildflowers abound up high, and marmots and pika are everywhere.
History & Background
While afflicted with a dull standard route, Mt. Shavano
is perhaps more famous for the aptly named "Angel of Shavano," a popular spring snow climbing route on its east face. The angel has a unique appearance, and, during years of high snowfall, often persists well into July.