Features: River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
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 located behind the bathroom. Hike 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 trail.
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. Hike 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 and 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 here, either return to the trailhead, or press on to summit the nearby Tabeguache Peak
(see Shavano and Tabeguache
The forest below Mt. Shavano is dense with conifers and Aspens. Wildflowers abound up high, and marmots and pika are everywhere.