Cameron Pass Seven Utes Mountain

Seven Utes Mountain from the East.  Photo: Rob Writz

Seven Utes Mountain is the premier winter backcountry ski mountain in the Northern Front Range. The mountain’s elevation extends just above tree line and it holds enough bowls, chutes, and tree skiing to keep a backcountry rider entertained for multiple winters. The east side of the mountain is most frequently skied because it is visible from Highway 14. The northwest flanks of the mountain, referred to as the “Wyoming Side” by locals, hold several bowls and glades may not see a skier for weeks or months at a time.

Seven Utes Mountain contains serious avalanche terrain. There are several chutes and bowls that are not frequently skied due to the combination of the terrain traps, avalanche starting zones, and the fickle Northern Front Range snowpack. If help is every needed, Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol is a backcountry ski patrol at Cameron Pass offering search and rescue assistance as well as avalanche education courses.

The mountain is completed contained within the State Forest State Park. There is a $3 individual day pass to access State Forest State Park via non-motorized means. You can obtain the permit at the self-service kiosk outside the Moose Visitor Center, or at the kiosk at the Nokhu Hut and Agnes Creek Cabin Parking (2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass on Highway 14). The Moose Visitor Center has an amazing view of the west side of the Northern Never Summer Range.

+ ROUTES

  • Season: Winter
  • Summit Elevation: 11.453’
  • Aspect: East, Northeast, North, Northwest
  • Elevation Range: 9,360’ – 11,453’
  • Vertical: 500’ - 1,450’
  • Trailhead: Seven Utes Pull Off on Highway 14
  • Snowmobile Access: Snowmobiles can access Seven Utes Mountain via the State Park’s “Seven Utes Trail”. This is the road that traverses the lower northern flank of the mountain, and then connects to Nokhu Hut and Agnes Creek Cabin Parking. The forest above this trail is dense and snowmobiles do not frequent the upper mountain.

Skin Track:

The approach into Seven Utes follows several old logging roads. As with the other backcountry zones of Cameron Pass there are many of these small roads zigzagging across the area. They all look the same, and you will want to follow the paths that lead you to the south. Head east from the trailhead and follow the frequent snowmobile tracks that parallel the highway and stay on the north side of the Michigan River. Proceed about 0.46 miles to where you are still north of the Michigan River and south of the road cut on Highway 14. This road cut has orange rocks and is east of the winter closure gate. [40.5018, -105.9309]. The entrance to a small forest road that takes you into Seven Utes is directly south of this road cut, across the river, and to the west of the old cabins. There is a log crossing over the river. [40.5012, -105.9312]

Follow the small logging road south through the low angle forest and it will then turn to the left (Southeast). Follow this uphill through several turns and approximately 0.55 miles you will intersect the Seven Utes snowmobile trail. [40.4961, -105.9284] This wide road has orange diamonds signage with arrows. Follow the Seven Utes snowmobile trail uphill for several turns and past the large open area to the left. At the major switchback to the right (northwest), head south into the forest paralleling the creek draining the east side of Seven Utes Mountain. [40.4941, -105.9278] This old forest road will descend to the creek. Cross the creek to a clearing. [40.4906, -105.9262] From here continue south on the east side of the creek bed. Alternatively there is another clearing just uphill to the east and there is a small logging road about 100 feet to the southwest of this upper clearing. Follow this logging road or the east side of the creek about 0.75 miles to the large clearing below Seven Utes Mountain’s Central Gully. [40.4802, -105.927]

Find your way up the steep Headwall Trees that are the southern end of this valley. From the top of the Headwall Trees you can then skin up the East Ridge of Seven Utes. It is approximately 3.6 miles from the trailhead to the summit of Seven Utes using this approach.

To directly gain Seven Ute’s North Face, the Northwest Bowl and Glades, use the approach described above but continue on the Seven Utes snowmobile trail. The road proceeds northwest and then east as it gradually rises across the northern slopes of the mountain. At 0.5 miles from the major switchback you reach the edge of a clearing to your left [40.4934, -105.9354]. This is the bottom of Seven Utes’ North Woods Bowl. Continue west another 0.5 miles on the Seven Utes snowmobile trail to outlet of the Northwest Bowl. [40.4918, -105.943] From here you can skin up the woods in the gully and then choose to climb up the western edge of the North Woods Bowl, up the middle of the Northwest Bowl, or up the forested slopes to the Northwest Bowl. There is probably not a defined skin track on any of these routes, as backcountry skiers do not frequent this area.

Exit:

Follow your approach route back to the Seven Utes snowmobile trail and then to the Michigan River crossing that we previously described. You can cross the Michigan River in other places, but it is often not frozen over during the winter.

Routes:

1 – Northwest Ridge – This moderate ridge descent keeps you above the avalanche hazards and leads to the Northwest Bowl. You can continue on the ridge beyond the bowl to another northwest facing bowl holding tree runs and an exit to the Seven Utes snowmobile trail.

2 - Northwest Bowl – The Northwest Bowl is comprised of several gullies that lead into the drainage below the North Face. Overall the terrain in here is not as steep as other parts of the mountain, but there is still avalanche hazard.

3 - North Face – The North Face begins in a steep and cross loaded bowl that quickly descends into tree and gully skiing that trends skier’s left into the drainage.

4 - North Woods Bowl: This bowl holds short tree runs that are partially visible from the parking lot. There are small glades in the upper bowl. This is the backside of the East Glades and you can climb into it directly above the Seven Utes snowmobile trail. (not pictured)

5 - North Ridge – The North Ridge is mostly used as a way to access the Seven Utes Chutes and East Glades from the summit. Be careful at the top with snow slide hazards on either side, but then the angle of the ridge becomes very low.

6 - Seven Utes Chutes – You catch a glimpse of these chutes during the skin up the creek below the east side of the mountain. For nearly a third of a mile there are numerous chutes dropping east from the North Ridge. The steeper chutes are closest to the summit. They are not frequently skied as the terrain includes avalanche starting zones and paths, and frequently crusty from the sun. Every few years this entire face will avalanche.

7 - East Glades – The East Glades are not as steep as the Seven Utes Chutes. You can access this open terrain via the North Ridge. Ski through the flat area on the ridge past the Seven Utes Chutes to access the start. Another option is to skin up the forest between the glades and the North Woods Bowl.

8 - East Ridge – The East Ridge is the most common ascent for skiers on Seven Utes. To ski this, retrace your uphill route.

9 - Central Gully - This is the big avalanche bowl and chute on the east side of the mountain.

10 - Meadow Gully – The Meadow Gully is a popular alternative on the descent from the East Ridge. There are rocks and cliffs at the bottom that may force you out of the gully itself.

11 - Headwall Glades – The Headwall Glades are expansive north facing terrain at the end of the valley. The tree skiing in here is phenomenal. The east side is less steep, while the west side is steeper and leads into avalanche gullies.

12 - Mahler Glades – Mount Mahler holds beautiful and low angle glade skiing on its northwest slope. These glades can easily be combined with the Headwall Glades for a long run. (not pictured)

+ TRAILHEAD

Seven Utes Pull Off on Highway 14 (9,362')

Cameron Pass is about 68 miles from Fort Collins and about 31 miles from Walden on Highway 14. There is a large pull off on the south side of Highway 14 that is used to access Seven Utes Mountain. [40.5035, -105.9393] This is 3.8 miles west of Cameron Pass and 4.2 miles east of the State Park’s Moose Visitor Center. There is no parking at the M&M cabins and the pull off at the closure gate.

There is a $3 individual day pass to access State Forest State Park via non-motorized means. You can obtain the permit at the self-service kiosk outside the Moose Visitor Center, or at the kiosk at the Nokhu Hut and Agnes Creek Cabin Parking (2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass on Highway 14).

+ MAPS & PICTURES

Below we have included a link to a Google interactive map and a curated list of photos of the mountain.

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website