Square Top Mountain is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idaho Springs, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September.
Did this hike last weekend and it was fantastic. Its rated moderate but should be moderate/high as the Southish slope is very steep and their really isn't a distinct trail for the majority of the hike.
The initial hike to Square Top Lakes is a nice hike on a fairly smooth trail. You do have to navigate through some willows and cross a few creeks but that's no big deal. Once you get past the first lake you have to fork to the left (westish) and climb a little ways. You get to a sign that says South Park 601 - Left, Square Mountain - Right. From there there is no marked trail. You just go for it up a steep mountain side. There are some stacks of rocks along the way to try to guide you but its not all that helpful. Tons of wild flowers here though. Once at the top, or slightly below it, the views are amazing. You get great views of Mt. Evans and Bierstadt. You can also hike a little further west to see the beautiful mountains in the heart of the Rockies.. You can take the same route down or you can cross the saddle onto the very large square top ridge, then descend on the north eastern ridge. That is also on an unmarked trail. I will say that going up you will probably need to stop and catch your breath. Try to stay on grass because the rocks are very loose. When going down take your time, it is way more difficult than going up.
Things I had: 2 Liters of water and I almost finished it, compass, map, phone (I had service at the top of the mountain...I use ATT 4G)
Things I wish I had: Snacks for extra energy, Hiking Poles for the descent, extra sunscreen (for the first time in my life my calves got burnt), better hiking shoes (like an idiot I ran out of the house with my Van's shoes on...this was not fun).
tough but worth it. great views!
This is rated as easy, however it should be rated as moderate to slightly difficult. The beginning of the trail is fairly easy, level with a few short elevation gains and a few small brooks to cross--however once you get to the turn off to climb up to the top of the mountain, you have to make like a mountain goat and just climb the mountain. There is no dedicated trail leading to the top. In addition, I did get lost coming down because there are no markers. There are two small cairns, but you can't see them until you're right on them. Take a Compass. I did this alone in sunny and warm and dry conditions so there were no elements to consider, aside for some mellow wind in some locations. You can easily walk up, but you have to break your own trail and choose which route to take to miss any gravel that looks like you could slide from underneath you, or loose rocks --there are tons of them. Large granite stepping stones to loose smaller ones, and rocks that look stable, but aren't. The dry tufts of grass are great stepping points, and overall it is a safe climb up, just watch your step! I did not have poles to help me however if you do have them I would take them. I would have felt better on the way down. This climb has very little people traffic on it. I met a couple who was in their mid 60s and who have been doing 14ers for several years. (Since the 70's-- traveling worldwide). The gentleman was stopping very frequently and commented that he did not remember it being this tough, obviously it would've been easier in his youth. However, at the top, I met a young man about 18 years old. He said he was touring with his family from NY. They had been hiking for a week in CO and he said this was a tougher climb than Mt. Bierstadt primarily because there is no paved trail. Perhaps because it's shy 200ft from being a 14er they don't clear a trail?? Personally for me, it was not that taxing, but I took my time and I'm fairly fit.
Anyone in reasonable condition can do this.
This is a great ski mountain! The east face is the best ski descent.