Mt. Wilcox offers yet another easy Class 2 hike that is readily accessible from two different trailheads. Though it makes a good amount of sense to pair Wilcox with Argentine Peak and Square Top Mountain, accessing Wilcox from the Naylor Lake Road near Guanella Pass brings the chance for a scenic circuit hike that takes you by three beautiful high alpine lakes with plenty of summer wildflowers. This route is also accessible to passenger vehicles unlike the Leavenworth Creek access.
Mt. Wilcox East Ridge Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Silver Dollar/Naylor Lakes TH #79:
From I-70, take the Georgetown Exit 228 and drive east on 15th St. to a traffic circle. Proceed 1/4 of the way through the circle and exit south onto Argentine St. Drive south on Argentine then turn left onto 11th St. Turn right onto Rose St. and head south into the main part of town. Continue all the way to 2nd St. where you'll turn left and will be on SH 381. This is the Guanella Pass Road. Follow it south several miles past the Guanella Pass Campground to a sharp curve in the road. On the east side of the highway, there's a large parking area for day-use and a smaller parking area as you turn right onto the Naylor Lake road #381.
Drive up the road to the west. The trailhead parking for Silver Dollar Lake will come in just over .6 mile. The parking area is not very large so on weekends you may be forced back down to the highway parking. Go ahead and park here if you have not already parked back at the two spots by the highway. If you continue on #381 a little farther, you'll come to a gate and Private Property warnings. Naylor Lake is on Private Property. Do not attempt to drive in.
The closest National Forest Campground is the Guanella Pass CG just north of the turnoff for #381 to Naylor Lake. The camground is located on both side of the highway and requires a fee. There is also the Clear Lake CG just south of Lower Cabin Creek Reservoir. The Clear Lake CG has 8 sites, drinking water and vault toilet. The Guanella Pass CG has 17 sites, water and vault toilets. As usual for Front Range camping, expect these to be occupied to the full on weekends. There are also a few primitive sites as you drive up the Naylor Lake road.
Guanella Pass ›
N 39° 36' 42.17", W 105° 43' 03.47"
Elevation 10,800 ft.
Clear Lake ›
N 39° 39' 01.95", W 105° 42' 28.19"
Elevation 10,050 ft.
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Year Climbed: 2003
The route we offer here will be a reverse of how we actually did this hike in 2003. By doing this as we suggest, it will get you to the summit of Wilcox faster and once there, you can decide if you need to hurry back by just turning around or if you have time to enjoy a pleasant stroll back that will take you by two pristine and scenic lakes. Mileage and elevation gain are measured from the parking/trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake.
From the suggested parking area which serves as the trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake, walk west up the road until you encounter the gate that marks the beginning of the private property. Make a right turn and head into the generally open forest with a NW direction. In about 400 feet of elevation gain, you will break out of the forest. If you find yourself heading into a lot of willows, skirt west along the edge of the forest until you get past the willows and then begin making a steeper ascent for the next 400 vertical feet, and then veer right to gain the very broad east ridge of Wilcox. Once past the willows, the terrain is almost all a grass/tundra mix. Follow the wide open ridge to the summit where you'll enjoy a great view of the three lakes to the south and the Leavenworth Creek valley to the north with the multitude of roads that lead to various mining claims and Argentine Pass.
Once you've had a nice rest at the summit, take the time to finish our suggested circuit hike by heading WSW along the ridge that heads over to Argentine Peak. The ridge changes over to mostly rubble with interspersed tundra, but there are no challenges. When you reach 12,860 ft. along the ridge where it begins to level out some, drop south a few hundred feet to cross one drainage, contour your way around a minor ridge and then drop down to Murray Lake. The trail is at the east end of the lake. Head on down the trail to Silver Dollar Lake and perhaps cool your feet. Then continue following the trail as it heads generally east. It passes through sections of willows numerous times and a few rock piles before finally re-entering forest for the last .7 mile back to the trailhead parking area. In 2003, we were able to complete this circuit hike in under four hours.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
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