Stone Mountain (7,625′) | Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park
Loveland, CO | 05/15/21 | 8.23 miles | 2,144′ gain
Stone Mountain is one of my favorite local peaks. I’d climbed it a few times before but not since the winter of ’18-’19. It’s amazing how much has changed in the past few years!
I set out from the Round Mountain Trailhead at 7am with my dog Lady. A few early birds were already on trail, mostly local trail runners. The trail starts on the access road for an old waterline which was removed a year or two ago. In less than 1/4-mile, I turned left off the road onto the Round Mountain Trail. This is the main access for both Sheep and Stone Mountains.
Above the road, the trail climbs quickly up the side of Sheep Mountain. There are a number of overlooks along the way but it was so cloudy the views were mostly obscured. I was hoping things would clear up by the time I got to the summit or else I’d be skunked on my summit views.
Though the views were mostly obscured, I was thankful for the scenery that I could see. The rock outcroppings and forested hillsides adjacent to the trail always catch my attention. I took a break near a spring to catch my breath and let Lady drink some water. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something just below us. We hiked down to check it out and came upon an old campsite with two mysterious metal boxes. I wonder what they could be!
After 3.2 miles, the trail enters an open area on the saddle between Sheep Mountain and PT 7709. This is where the route to Stone Mountain breaks off from the main trail to Sheep Mountain. Back in 2018 there was a cairn marking the turnoff but that has since been removed. Stone has started to see quite a bit more traffic and the once faint trail was now pretty obvious. Some logs (visible in the below picture) were placed over the Stone Mountain trail, probably to discourage Sheep Mountain hikers from going the wrong way. (A lot of the AllTrails reviewers for Sheep & Stone Mountains had climbed the wrong mountain. So it happens!)
From the turnoff, it’s only 3/4-mile and 230′ to the top of Stone Mountain. The trail contours around PT 7709 and then offers a nice view of Stone.
Once at the base of Stone Mountain, the trail steepens and becomes more difficult to follow. The summit is an obvious pile of boulders and a relatively easy scramble. My dogs have always struggled a bit here, though I can’t say they’re the most adept rock climbers.
With a little help from Mommy, Lady made it to the top where we had…zero views. The darn clouds were supposed to have gone away by now! We did have the summit to ourselves which was nice, and even though I couldn’t see much, it was still a nice spot to have a snack. The summit register was completely full. Back in 2018, only a few people each month climbed Stone Mountain. Now it was a few people each day. Amazing how things have changed.
We headed back down the way we came up, passed a few people on the Stone Mountain trail and then dozens of people once back on the main trail. After what felt like 30 miles through the forest, we finally made it back to the car. I wished I’d had better views, but it was still a great day in the mountains.
I would like to acknowledge that Stone Mountain is on the ancestral land of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Great Sioux Nation), Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, and Arapaho.