Square Top Lakes, Guanella Pass - Mount Bierstadt Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Square Top Lakes - 4.6 miles

Guanella Pass - Mount Bierstadt Trailhead

The Square Top Lakes

The Square Top Lakes

Round-Trip Length: 4.6 miles (includes both lakes)
Start-End Elevation: 11,678' - 12,265' (12,272' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +587' net elevation gain (+1,012' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Square Top Lakes - 4.6 Miles Round-Trip

The Square Top Lakes are located 1.83 and 2.15 miles west of Guanella Pass along the South Park Trail. Both lie in open tundra directly beneath eponymous Square Top Mountain (13,794').

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Visitors will enjoy a relatively easy hike through an exceptional alpine landscape to the lakes. Mild trail conditions are well suited for runners, backpackers, families and winter recreation:

The South Park Trail begins on the west side of Guanella Pass in the auxiliary parking lot for Mt Bierstadt. It drops gently through a west-facing valley before edging steeply to a crest on the north valley wall (1.45 miles : 12,055').

The trail dips back through willow to the edge of a talus field, which momentarily obscures the way. It soon clarifies and rises back to lower Square Top Lake (1.83 miles : 12,046'), which fills a broad depression in the open tundra.

Anglers will enjoy ample room and access, however backpackers may feel a little exposed to crowds. The South Park Trail continues to a marked spur (2.0 miles : 12,175') that breaks steeply north to upper Square Top Lake (2.3 miles : 12,265').

This final approach may be vague with lingering snow, but the outlet stream is intuitively followed. Suitable camping terrain can be found along the outlet and lake perimeter.

A social trail rings the lake, and surrounding slopes are fairly easy to scale for additional perspective. Look for mountain goat and bighorn sheep along ridges, and elk and moose in the valley below. Square Top Mountain is accessible, however routes directly off the South Park Trail are preferable to starting within the lake basin.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 35.829 W105 42.784 — 0.0 miles : Guanella Pass - South Park Trail
  • N39 35.629 W105 43.234 — .5 miles : Level travel on valley floor
  • N39 35.444 W105 43.652 — 1.0 miles : Trail edges up north valley wall
  • N39 35.458 W105 44.048 — 1.45 miles : Trail crests with great view of Square Top
  • N39 35.405 W105 44.342 — 1.83 miles : Lower Square Top Lake
  • N39 35.333 W105 44.498 — 2.0 miles : Spur to upper Square Top Lake
  • N39 35.464 W105 44.692 — 2.3 miles : Upper Square Top Lake
  • N39 35.806 W105 44.768 — Ridge over Silver Dollar Lake basin

Worth Noting

  • This is a popular trail whose parking lot also services Mt Bierstadt. Parking fills very quickly, especially on summer weekends. Arrive early to secure space and avoid crowds.

  • This trail runs entirely above treeline and is fully exposed. Be mindful of changing weather and aim for low ground before storms develop.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Contact the South Platte Ranger District (303.275.5610) for the latest on weather, trail conditions and trail-specific usage guidelines when planning your trip.

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Pike National Forest and Mt Evans Wilderness Area.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.

  • Campfires are permitted for dispersed backcountry camping, with potential seasonal and elevation restrictions.

  • Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days in one location. After 14 days, the campsite must be moved a minimum of three miles.

  • The Clear Creek Ranger District maintains eight developed campgrounds. All are accessed from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, I-70 and Colorado Highways 40, 103, and 119. Operating seasons vary, however most range from mid-May through mid-October. Contact the Clear Creek Ranger District for availability and detailed information on each.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at both Square Top Lakes and along Scott Gomer Creek with a valid Colorado state fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are permitted on the South Park Trail and at Square Top Lakes. Dogs must be leashed at all times.

  • Bikes and mechanized vehicles are not permitted on the South Park Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

The Guanella Pass - South Park Trail is located 11.8 miles south of Georgetown, CO on Guanella Pass Road.

From I-70, exit #228 for Georgetown and follow signs through town for Guanella Pass Road. Follow Guanella Pass Road south to the new parking facility on the west (right) side of the road. The South Park Trail begins on the west side of this lot. Additional roadside parking is permitted in designated spaces only. The Mt Bierstadt Trail begins on the east side of Guanella Pass Road.

Contact Information

South Platte Ranger District
19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465
303.275.5610 (phone)
303.275.5642 (fax)
Office Hours:
Monday - Friday, 8 am - 4:30 pm (excluding National Holidays)

Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek Road
P.O. Box 3307
Idaho Springs, CO 80452

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