Peak(s):  Square Top Mtn A  -  13,794 feet
Argentine Pk  -  13,738 feet
Edwards, Mt  -  13,850 feet
Wilcox, Mt  -  13,408 feet
Date Posted:  04/22/2012
Modified:  04/23/2012
Date Climbed:   04/21/2012
Author:  milan
 Naylor Lake Loop + Edwards  

Naylor Lake Loop and Edwards - Long and Lonely Day on Front Range.

Estimate: 6000 feet of elevation gain, about 16 miles.
Gear and equipment: Microspikes, Ice Axe, Gaitors, Snowshoes, Ski Poles, Handwarmers, Good Winter Clothes
Start - finish 7 am - 9.30 pm.

Recently I red a trip report by AndYouSeeMee describing a nice easy loop hike around Naylor Lake with three ranked 13ers involved. I looked at the map and started to make my Saturday plan. I realized that not only there are three 13ers on the loop but also that there is a ridge from Argentine Peak towards Grays Peak that contains a centennial Mt. Edwards. So I decided to hike the loop and when on the summit of Argentine, decide if I am fresh enough to go grab Edwards. Well, go grab is not exactly what I did, unles it means pretty long hike.

Route overview from Sawtooth.

I started at the campground below Guanella pass, at the beginning of Naylor Lake Road. This is current trailhead since there is snow on NL road. I continued to the small parking lot where the Silver Dollar Lake Trail starts and continued on the trail, soon I needed snowshoes and when I got just above the Naylor Lake, I left the trail to the left where there was a large gully that I hoped would deposit me on the ridge that leads to Square Top Mountain.

A gully to the left that goes directly to the ridge that is connected to Square Top Mntn.

The gully has still a lot of snow and since I put off my snowshoes too early and was too lazy to put them back on, I postholed a little bit.

Upper part of the gully holds a lot of snow.

On the ridge, I realized that the weather forecast was pretty inacurate. It predicted wind about 10-15 mph and I encountered wind maybe 50 mph with gusts that I couldn't stand in (maybe 70 mph)..

On the ridge, Square Top ahead of me.

On the ridge, the hike to the Square Top Mountain summit was nice except the wind. It was so strong that I could not stand on the summit and I wasn't able to take pictures, my hands froze and I runned to lower myself to the saddle with Argentine Pk where the wind was OK.

Picture of Argentine and Wilcox from the ridge.

The ridge towards Argentine was snowed all over. The snow was soft and deep, easy to hike through, I used Ice axe just for security.

Argentine Pk. from the saddle between Square Top Mntn. and Argentine Pk.

Square Top Mountain from the sub summit of Argentine Pk.

Summit of Argentine Pk.

Me on Argentine Pk.

Front Range.

Front Range.

On the summit of Argentine Pk., I decided I had eneugh energy to go to Edwards and back. The ridge looked as an easy hike, not too far, not too deep. I was wrong, it was far (? maybe 2 miles?) and like a rollercoaster. Up and down, up and down, over about million sub summits. Well, it took me 2 hours to Edwards and same amount of time back.

The ridge between Argentine Pk. and Mt. Edwards is bumpy. And long..Very long..

View of Grays Pk. and Torreys Pk. from the summit of Mt. Edwards.



Greas Pk., Torreys Pk., and Mt. Edwards from the ridge.

I was hoping to be able to bypass Argentine on the way to Wilcox but it looked too steep, so I got back to Argentine Pk. at 6 pm, very tired and I went down to the saddle with Wilcox. I was thinking to bypass the summit and go directly down to my car but I finally decided to finish by summiting Wilcox. It was only about 500 feet to gain and I felt I'll be able to do this, although it will get dark before I finish. So I went up and while I was hiking up, a cloud rolled in and snowed. I took a picture of its leftover from the summit.

Sunset over Grays and Torreys.

Evans and Bierstadt.

Square Top Mountain in sunset glow.

A snowy cloud.

Me on the summit of Wilcox Pk.

After that, I continued the long slope of Wilcox towards Naylor Lake. Before I got there, it got almost dark, the slope is not steep in the upper part but it is pretty bad just above the lake. In the rest of the daylight, I found some avalanche chute that I took as my route down. I descended it and it was completely dark, so I turned on my head lamp. I planned to go through the forest further east to bypass the private facility at the lake. First it seemed that only the problem there will be some serious postholing. I was wrong, soon I got to a large area full of fallen trees, a horrible mess. Deep snow + postholing combined with climbing over fallen conifers... There I decided to go directly to the middle of the valley to get out as soon as possible and it took me over an hour to pass about 300 yards. Finally I saw a little house with a sign of no trespassing on it and I said myself F@#k it. I just went down to the center of the valley, noticed some footprints in the snow and assumed it is the Naylor Lake Road (which was correct) and I used it to get out, passed other signs of "private property, no trespassing".. Nobody was there to shoot me. I got to the car at 9.30, very happy and tired

For those who do the same loop, I'd reccomend to do a better research of how to get down from Wilcox, I though I will just see it from the top or find it easily, if I did my homework, I'd probably save myself a lot of troubles. Worth to mention, the only people I met on this trip was a group with dogs in the morning just several hundred yards from the trailhead. After that nobody.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

I feel your pain
04/23/2012 13:07
A group of us did the Wilcox, Argentine, Square Top loop yesterday in the opposite direction and had battled that trail in both directions, it's a mess of downed trees and waist deep postholing.

Great report!


Way to Perservere Up There
04/23/2012 14:13
We lost your tracks straight away and didn't find them again until the bottom of that gully. Went up for Argentine but ditched that idea after trenching up to Murray Lake. I'm still that you spent the day in that wind! Good work. Splendid report!

On the way back out we ran into roughly a dozen people poaching up to Silver Dollar.


04/24/2012 04:15
I climbed Bierstadt today and was checking out the terrain you covered...just made me tired. Very impresive.


Thanks guys.
04/24/2012 05:16
It was a really fun trip anyways, no pain, no gain ...MTGOAT72, you gave me an idea to go through my old photos and add a route overview ..


Nice Job
04/24/2012 13:56
Did the Naylor Lake approach a while back (07 maybe) and came across the same descent issue as you. I ended up walking down to the shore of the lake and was approached by a guy in a boat. He informed me it was private, but after he discovered I was hiking and not fishing he wasn't too upset. Turns out the group of people that own the lake privately stock the fish, so they try to keep trespassers from fishing. Talked to his wife on the way out at their cabin for quite a while, really nice people. As for the better descent, one should head due east from Wilcox rather than SE. By the time you hit 12K, you should be past most of the private property. I'm thinking I may have even wrote a TR on this way back...dont remember.

Anyways, nice job on a great area.


Chicago Transplant

04/25/2012 21:07
Looks like some hard work, but very rewarding!

To avoid private property at the lake... We descended almost due east from Wilcox then slightly southeast to the small flat area on the topo around 11,600, then ESE to our car at the trailhead at 11,200. No fences, no signs, so I think we bypassed all of the private land. Another option is to also climb Otter (ranked 12er nearby) and descend the basin between Otter and Wilcox then south to the trailhead from the ponds around 11,300.

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