Sherman access road question

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Sherman access road question

Post by mgl45 »

I've read a lot about Sherman over the years, figuring it would be my first 14er and the time has finally arrived to make an attempt. I just did Mount Sniktau today and I'm planning on Sherman over the next week or so.

With the Fourmile Creek access road, to get the upper trailhead, I've read that it's doable with 2WD when it's dry. My question is, can anyone offer any perspective on how often the road is wet enough that 4WD would be required or highly advisable? (I'm driving a front wheel drive Promaster van)

I realize that I could always start the hike from the lower trailhead but I'm dealing with some physical issues that make that impractical. Sherman from the upper trailhead is just barely within the limit of what I think I can do. As a result, as I think about what could go wrong (and of course there are a great many things), one of them is I show up early one morning and the road is too wet and I'm just hoping to get some sense of how likely that actually is.

Thanks much for any insight anyone can offer!


I went on a scouting mission today (7/3/2022) of the access road for an upcoming ascent of Sherman.

Here are some details I learned that I thought were helpful, which I also posted to a trailhead status update.

*As documented elsewhere, the rough part of the road starts about 1.5 - 1.7 miles from the trailhead (the gate).

*In the "rough" section the first half mile or so has lots of rocks and a few ruts. I was in a 2WD Dodge Promaster van, which I think has higher clearance than a typical 2WD car, and really only a few rocks were large enough that I though there was a clearance issue and navigating around them was manageable.

*After the first half mile of the rough section, it's pretty easy going until the last couple hundred yards to the trailhead. There is a hill which has lots of rocks and the rocks are bigger than the previous rough section, many which game me clearance concerns. There are also several big ruts on this hill.

I made it up the hill but there was a moment where I was was kind of just going for it. I also don't have much experience on rough roads so it might have felt worse for me than for an experienced person.

In a couple places on this nasty hill there were large sharp looking rocks that were horribly positioned in an otherwise clear line. On the way down I stopped and moved these couple rocks to the side of the road.

*There is parking just below this nasty hill, which is at 11,800feet or is only a few hundred yards from the trailhead (12,000 feet).

*Overall, managing this road with 2WD is not a traction issue, it's a clearance issue.

*Regarding "when the road is wet".

I arrived at the road in the early afternoon and it started lightly raining. I proceeded with caution and found that a light rain really doesn't seem to cause much of a problem with traction. The only possible exception is the nasty hill on the last few hundred yards mentioned before. On this part of the road the natural drainage for the mountain is the road. When I got there there was a small creek zig zagging down the road. I made it but it hadn't been raining for long. Again, there is parking just before this nasty hill.

On closer review, the official trailhead description mentions "during the spring" in the statement of caution about when the road is wet, which I had forgotten when making this post. I can totally see that - if there was a lot of run off happening, I could see that changing the traction dynamics significantly.
Last edited by mgl45 on Mon Jul 04, 2022 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Monte Meals
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Re: Sherman access road question

Post by Monte Meals »

Perhaps a different perspective ;

The summit may be A goal - but for me, not THE ultimate goal.
While I have not kept an actual count, I know that I have
many more attempts than summits.

For me, just being out and hiking is the real goal. Sure, I want to
stand atop those fantastic peaks, but turning around never bothers
me when conditions call for it.

Just last month, I turned around Sniktau because of high wind.
No probalmo.

Relax, enjoy being out there, and revel in what you can accomplish.
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Re: Sherman access road question

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

The Tibetan book of the dead teaches us that there is no past or no future, only right now
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Re: Sherman access road question

Post by JaredJohnson »

I haven't done that road in summer, but I've done a lot of rough 2WD 14er access roads in rental sedans, some have been kinda wet, and I've never been turned around for lack of traction. I wouldn't worry too much about that as a factor
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