Peak(s):  Square Top Mtn A  -  13,794 feet
Argentine Pk  -  13,738 feet
Wilcox, Mt  -  13,408 feet
Date Posted:  07/11/2018
Date Climbed:   07/10/2018
Author:  mtnkub
 Squ-Arg-Wil loop 2 cents  

Precedent appears to establish a route for combining Square Top Mountain, Argentine Peak, and Mount Wilcox that crosses private property on the Naylor Lake shore (and that is -imho- also suboptimal otherwise). Some have suggested that this trespassing is unavoidable, but reports also indicate that the owners do not react kindly to trespassers. Here I’ll describe 1) a slight variation that avoids trespassing and 2) a more significant variation that would imho be a better choice.

The general idea is to start at the upper Guanella Pass trailhead (for Square Top) and end at the Silver Dollar Lake trailhead; nothing exceeding class 2. With the slog back on Guanella Pass Road, the loop has been described to be ~10-12mi with 4,100-5,000ft elevation gain. That remains the same with the two variations below:

1) Avoid private property by NOT descending all the way to Naylor Lake, and instead do some bushwacking through the forest (after descending some pretty steep slopes; beware not to cliff out). This is the option I took. There was a bunch of deadfall, but the forest is not super dense, also allowing to navigate using the ridgeline to the south as reference (which was good for me, b/c my phone GPS ran out of juice). Without GPS, I ended up hitting the road still within 100 yards of the property boundary… but well out of sight from any of the structures near the lake. (This following report contains a map with indication of the property lines, in addition to a GPS track of the “standard loop”: https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=14333 ).

2) But, imho, the following is the better option: From Mt Wilcox, trace your steps back to the saddle with Argentine. From there, take an obvious ramp down towards the valley, heading east, and then turn south to reach Murray Lake (as described in this report: https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=18070 ). From Murray Lake, there is a trail to Silver Lake and then down to the trailhead.

Option 2 requires a short back-track and thus doesn’t make for quite as pleasing of a loop on the map (one reason I didn’t take this option)... but for the actual hiking, it is probably more pleasing: It avoids one of the more unpleasant parts of the “standard loop” of option 1 (down from Wilcox), makes use of an established trail, and adds two alpine lakes.

A remaining not-so-pleasing part of this loop is the slog back up to the Guanella Pass trailhead. Of course this could be avoided with two 2WD vehicles... or with one 4WD vehicle . With the 4WD vehicle, one could start at the upper 4WD trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake instead, and climb Square Top after gaining the Square Top – Argentine saddle from Silver Dollar Lake. With the two 2WD vehicles, one could stash one of them at the lower 2WD trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake (which is just off the Guanella Pass Road).


18747_01
View from Wilcox. Left of center: Square Top; right of center: Argentine. Three bumps far left: Spalding, Evans, Bierstadt; tree bumps on the right: Grays, Torreys, Edwards; further right: Parnassus and Bard.








Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1


 Comments or Questions
Matt

Another Precedent
07/12/2018 13:18
There's no reason to go near Naylor Lake's private property or to have a car shuttle for nabbing all three of these.
2010 TR for ST-Arg-Wil loop


mtnkub

Couldn't agree more
07/12/2018 14:26
and i like your line from the Silver Dollar Lake TH to Square Top better than my suggestion. (Would still pick my "option 2" for the descent).



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