Routt National Forest    Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District 

Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain Roadless Area

   

View towards Hahns Peak.   Chris F. Fish

The 38,600-acre* Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area varies from dense forest on steep slopes to gentle slopes with aspen groves and meadows. Creeks tumble through several drainages. Good views are found looking over Slater Park. The Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area provides critical habitat for big game species such as elk and moose.

The Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain roadless area is northwest of Steamboat Lake and west of Hahns Peak. Shield Mountain (9,921 feet) to the north and Nipple Peak (10,324 feet) in the center give the area its name. Other major peaks in the area include Diamond Peak (10,428 feet) in the south and Iron Mountain (9,725 feet) and City Mountain (9,557 feet) on the east. Several tributaries of the Little Snake River have their headwaters in this area. The Little Snake River flows to the Yampa River, one of the last free-flowing tributaries of the Colorado River system.

The peaks of Nipple Peak and Shield Mountain are covered with spruce-fir forest. Lodgepole pine and aspen groves are found at lower elevations. Wetlands are found along Box Creek in the northeast and montane grasslands are found in west. Elk have calves and gather in the summer and moose gather in the Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area. Rare birds sighted here area include greater sandhill crane, whose breeding population is imperiled in Colorado and is a species of special concern in Colorado. Rare fish found in the area include the native (non-hybridized) Colorado River cutthroat trout, which is a species of special concern in Colorado and is considered sensitive by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Rare amphibians sighted in the Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area include boreal toad, which is critically imperiled in Colorado, is considered sensitive by the US Forest Service, and is a candidate for listing under the endangered species act. Rare plants sighted in the Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area include rabbit ears gilia, which is imperiled in Colorado.

Opportunities for recreation in the Nipple Peak North/Shield Mountain area include the Nipple Peak Trail, the Burton Creek Trail, and the Prospector Trail. The Nipple Peak Trail is part of the 21-mile Hahns Peak/Nipple Peak Loop trail.

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*Forest Service inventories show 20,152 acres for Nipple Creek RA, and 9,636 acres for Shield Mountain.  Local conservation organizations have been conducting inventories of boundaries for all roadless areas included in the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. In many cases, this field work revealed that the extent of the unroaded area was different  than that reflected in the 2001 Rule. In addition, citizens' inventories reported additional units of at least 5,000 acres that had been excluded from the 2001 Rule. For more information on the difference between Forest Service and Citizens' inventories, click here.