• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4.3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1080 Feet

Dog Friendly

Avoid the crowds from Mount Bierstadt and hike to two stunning alpine lakes.

Starting from Guanella Pass, right across from the Bierstadt trailhead, Square Top Lakes is definitely a hidden gem. Most people here are attempting to do the 14er, but if you've already bagged that one (or are just looking for some high altitude hiking to get you ready for it), Square Top Lakes is perfect.

The hike begins by immediately descending a few hundred feet into a small valley. From there, you wind your way along the valley floor, slowly working your way back uphill. There are lots of willows close to the trail, so plan on having to walk through some dense brush. The trail also follows the outlet stream closely, so be prepared to get your shoes wet, as there are quite a few creek crossings. 

When the trail starts to get noticeably steeper, you are getting close to the first lake. This lower lake is about 1.8 miles from the trailhead, and you can't see it until you're almost right on it. This is a great spot to take in the views east of you, where you can see Bierstadt and Evans towering over the landscape. 

The trail splits a few tenths of a mile past the first lake, with the left fork taking you up Square Top Mountain and the right fork taking you to the upper lake. This section of trail can have snow cover, so be aware of your steps. It eventually levels out, offering great views of the lower lake and (again) Bierstadt and Evans. 

The upper lake is nestled at the base of Square Top Mountain, and has ample space to spread out and relax. Take your shoes off and cool down in the lake itself, enjoy a snack, and take in those views.

This hike is entirely above treeline, so make sure you have sunscreen and that you are aware of the weather - storms roll in quickly at this altitude. It's a good idea to get here early, too, since the Bierstadt Trailhead is so popular. Technically, this hike has it's own lot, but it fills up when all of the Bierstadt parking is taken.  

Pack List

  • Waterproof shoes
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Haley Baker Explorer

Technology and Digital Collections Librarian trying to have an adventure every weekend.

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