Mount Wilcox (13,408′) | CO Rank: 315/637
Front Range | Arapaho National Forest | Georgetown, CO
06/07/20 | 7.47 miles | 2,564′ gain | Class 1 & 2
While 2020 has “blessed” us with many a dumpster fire, an early start to summer was something to be truly happy about, especially after the very short summer of 2019! I’m never one to complain about a snow-free route, so I was more than happy to meet up with my friend Allie for our first “summer” hike of 2020. (It was technically still spring.)
Mount Wilcox is most easily accessed via a very popular Silver Dollar Lake Trail. This trail is open year-round from the 2wd trailhead off Guanella Pass, but if you have an appropriate vehicle (and the snow is melted) you can drive another 0.7 miles to the upper trailhead. Thankfully, my Crosstrek easily made it, saving us 1.4 miles of road-walking.
We arrived at 6:45am, early enough to beat the crowds. The trail starts in the forest but soon reaches treeline at Naylor Lake, the first of three lakes along this trail. Naylor Lake is on private property, so make sure you stay on-trail through this area. There were a few remaining snowfields but they were all trenched in.
The trail was super easy to follow and we soon found ourselves at Silver Dollar Lake. Now that we were nearing the end of the trail, we really needed to scope out our route. I had an approximate route downloaded, but there is always some route-finding to be done in person.
The trail continued past Silver Dollar Lake but was covered by snowfields. We were able to walk around the snow, avoiding the steepest sections. (You may be able to see a glissade track in the below picture, near center. This was our route down.)
We picked up the trail again above the snowfields and quickly made our way to the third lake, Murray Lake. The trail crosses the outlet at an old dam. There were rocks to step on but it was really windy so I did get a wet foot here.
The trail slowly faded into the tundra, and we began to plot out our route. There were a few different options here, but a grassy ramp seemed to be the easiest. Allie liked the look of an adjacent gully better, so we separated briefly and met at the top. Her gully turned out to be worse than anticipated, so we both took the grassy slope on our way down.
Once back together, we crossed a small stream and ascended grass & rock slopes. The farther left (west), the more gradual and less rocky the terrain. We picked a line that looked good to both of us, and climbed to the ridge.
Once on the ridge, the wind picked up a bit. We followed the ridge all the way to the summit.
This was such a fun hike and a great first 13er of “summer”!