14er Peak Rank #17/53 and Rank #25/53

Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak – two of the three 14ers of the ‘indian group’ featured on Colorado 14ers Map 9 of 16 (the other being Mount Antero) – are neighbors (their summits are less than a mile apart) and the southernmost 14ers of the Sawatch Range. Usually hiked together due to their close proximity, these two peaks are moderately busy compared to other Sawatch Range 14ers – but expect plenty of company on Summer weekends nonetheless.

Espirit Point and Mount Shavano Colorado

By David Herrera from Albuquerque, NM, Bernalillo – The Angel and Grinch of Mount Shavano Uploaded by xnatedawgxCC BY 2.0Link

Native American references are common amongst place names of the Sawatch Range, as this area was part of Ute indian territory of Colorado, with the name Sawatch (pronounced sah-WATCH) itself coming from a Ute language – some sources claiming it comes from the Ute noun ‘sawup’ meaning sand dunes and other sources suggesting it means blue earth spring.

Mount Shavano is named for a leader and medicine man of the Tabeguache band of the Ute Indians, who worked with the white settlers of Colorado in the late 1800s assisting them with quelling uprisings recovering white captives, amongst other deeds. Despite his assistance to the white settlers, Shavano and his family and followers were deported to Utah in 1881 where he was later shot in 1886 by the father of a boy who died after Shavano’s medicine man cure failed on the boy.

Ute Indian Leaders of Colroado
Ute Indian Leaders of Colroado

Ute Indian Leaders – Chief Ouray seated center with Shavano behind him to his left (back, right of photo)

The name Mount Shavano was given to the mountain around the 1870s (first appearing on a map in 1875) along with a mining camp along its slopes in the area. Tabeguache peak (pronounced tab-uh-WATCH) was named after the largest group of Ute Indians from this part of central Colorado and is said to be derived from the Ute word Mogwatavungwantsingwu which translates roughly to “cedar-bark, sunny slope people”.

One of the prominent features of Mount Shavano is the Angel of Shavano – a snow feature that resembles and angel with spread wings that is revealed in the spring and through much of the summer when the snow surrounding these deeper crevasses melts away. Some say there is also the face of a grinch staring creepily to the left of the angel… you decide:

Angel and Grinch of Mount Shavano

The Angel and Grinch of Mount Shavano” (CC BY 2.0) by dherrera_96

There area two main approaches to Mount Shvano and Tabeguache Peak, the most popular perhaps being the Shavano/Tabeguache Trailhead (Blank Gulch Trailhead) just off Forest Service Road 252 (at elevation 9,775′). From here, there is a 0.2 mile walk along to meet up with the Colorado Trail, at which point you turn right/north for another 0.2 miles along the CT before branching off left/west on the Mount Shavano Trail #1428. From here it’s a Class 2 (more difficult hiking), mostly westward climb for another 3.8 miles to the summit of Mount Shavano for a one-way total of 4.2 miles and a net elevation gain of about 4,455′.

Until recently, to follow this route one actually had to walk through private property to gain the summit as there existed three old mining claims to the south and southeast of the Shavano summit (including the summit itself). However, in 2016, the Colorado 14ers Initiative purchased this land and they also plan on building a new, more sustainable trail that travels somewhat to the north of the current trail.

Map showing private property near summit of Mount Shavano

From the summit of Mount Shavano, there is a Class 2 route over to Tabeguache Peak that is only 0.9 miles, allowing hikers to summit both mountains in fairly quick succession.

One could also start this approach from the Angel of Shavano Trailhead off County Road 240 (south of the Shavano/Tabeguache Trailhead mentioned above), which would add another 2 miles travel north along the Colorado Trail to the junction of where the other trailhead spur joins the CT.

These two summits can also be climbed from the west via the Jennings Creek Trailhead (elevation 10,550′), which starts along County Road 240 (3.8 miles west of the Angel of Shavano Campground). This Class 2 trail heads due north along Jennings Creek directly up to the ridge (reaching it after 2.1 miles) before turning right/east for another 1.5 miles to the summit of Tabeguache Peak. This route is 3.6 miles one way to Tabegauche (add 0.9 miles to Shavano) with a net elevation gain of 3,600′ to the Tabegauache Peak summit.

From the east or west, however you choose to hike to the summits of Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak, remember to be prepared for a high alpine hike by bringing plenty of water, respecting both weather conditions and your own limitations and by bringing your 14ers Maps along with you. Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peaks are two of three fourteeners featured on Outdoor Trail Maps Colorado 14ers Map 9 of 16.

Directions to Trailheads:

To reach the Shavano/Tabeguache (Blank Gulch) Trailhead, turn west onto County Road 140 from US 285 (left if coming from the south along 285, or right if coming from the north) just north of Poncha Springs. After 1.7 miles, turn right/north onto County Road 250 and drive for 4 miles and bear left onto County Road/Forest Service Road 252. Follow 252 for another 3.2 miles to the trailhead.

For the Angel of Shavano Trailhead, from Poncha Springs, travel 6.25 miles west on US Hwy 50 from the intersection of US 50 and US 285 and turn right/north onto County Road 240 for 3.9 miles to the Angel of Shavano Campground where the trailhead is on the right.

For the Jennings Creek Trailhead, use the Angel of Shavano Campground/Trailhead directions above, but travel another 3.8 miles west on County Road 240 (the road becomes much rougher after the campground, and a high clearance vehicle is recommended).