General Mountain Information: Squaw Mountain
Squaw Mountain Rating: ★★ (⅖ Stars)
Distance: 3.75 Miles RT
Elevation Start: 10,500 ft
Squaw Mountain Elevation: 11,486 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 900 ft
Estimated Time to Complete: 1-2 Hours RT
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate What does this mean?
Class: Class 1
Season: Year Round – Expect Snow December – March
Trailhead: Squaw Pass
Getting Here: Finding Squaw Mountain can bit a bit of a pain. From either Evergreen or Idaho Springs, take Squaw Pass Rd until you are near Echo Mountain resort. Continue past the main entrance of Echo for about 300 – 400 yards until you see a dirt road on your left (if Echo is on your right). This is the start of the lower trailhead. You could drive up this road to take off about a mile of round trip hiking or park in the small parking area on Squaw Pass Road. The road is drive-able with all vehicles, but not maintained during the snowy winter months. Unfortunately, there is nothing to enter into your navigational device, but you could enter in Echo Mountain to get you in the right general area.
Parking: Squaw Mountain has two main parking areas: the “upper trailhead” or off Squaw Pass Rd. Parking is very limited in both areas and free. There are no bathrooms anywhere along this hike.
Dogs: Squaw Mountain is a dog friendly mountain, but be careful with your dogs off leash. There is a shooting range at the start of the hike that has no fencing to keep animals out of it.
Camping: Technically you are not allowed to camp in the back-country near Squaw Mountain, however, you will notice several old campsites on your hike. If you want an official campground, continue west on Squaw Pass rd for several areas there. You can stay in the lookout tire at the top of Squaw Mountain for $80 per night. Find out more reservation information here.
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Make it a Loop: Squaw Mountain is an out and back hike, but you could easily add neighboring Chief Mountain to your day if you wanted to do another short hike in the area.
Trail Summary: Squaw Mountain is a short out and back hike located in Idaho Springs, Colorado. One of the many trails off Squaw Pass, Squaw Mountain’s summit has an old fire lookout tower which can be rented for $80 a night. Squaw Mountain is a family friendly hike with rewarding views on the summit. This is a great hike for after work or on a weekend as it is not heavily trafficked.
Trail X Factors: People Staying in Fire Tower & Gun Range
Want an awkward moment? Climb up the fire tower and make eye contact with people that until 2 seconds prior, you had no idea where there. Don’t make the same mistake I did and be sure to be aware if people are staying in the lookout tire on the top of Squaw Mountain. While this won’t take away from your hike, it is kind of cool to be able to climb the tower and take in the views from there.
In addition to the fire tower, there is also a chance to see some potentially unwanted people at the gun range towards the bottom of the hike. While the range does point away from the hike, so a stray bullet is not going to be a problem, the shooting range can be loud and ruin your serene hike, if that is what you are looking for. I have been to Squaw Mountain 3 times and have only had people shooting guns once. If you want to avoid this situation all together, you can hike Squaw Mountain in the winter when driving a car up to the gun range can be much more challenging.
- Mickey’s Mountain Kit
- Optional: Hiking Poles – great for the way down
- Optional: Microspikes – helpful in winter
- Optional: Camera
- Optional: Snowshoes – if hiking in deep winter snow
Mick’s Tip: Looking for a unique place to stay that involves no camping? This page has more information about staying in the Squaw Mountain lookout tower. Its $80 per night and reservations are required, but I think its a very unique way to take in Mt Evans and the wilderness around it. If you are into night photography, stargazing or just want a unique spot to stay, I highly recommend.
Photography Tip: Squaw Mountain offers mediocre views until you get to the summit where there are great views of Evergreen, Idaho Springs, Mt Evans and on a clear day: Denver and Indian Peaks Wilderness to the north. This is a short hike, so feel free to bring all the extra gadgets.
Mick’s Trip: Squaw Mountain
When we moved up to Evergreen, one of the things I was most excited about was discovering the new hiking trails in our area. Squaw Pass is one of the main ways to get to Mt Evans and filled with a variety of hiking trails along the miles of winding pavement. Juno and I set out to hike Squaw Mountain after work one day and ran into some difficulties. Unlike some of the trails I am used to hiking, the signage for hikes along Squaw Pass is not the best, hidden to those who are not looking for it. It took me three separate trips up the pass to find both Chief Mountain and Squaw Mountain.
The trail up Squaw Mountain started with an old forest road that is dirt. I decided to park at the bottom of it (right off Squaw Pass), but I could have easily driven an additional 1/2 mile up to the official trailhead start. As we walked up the dirt road, Juno played in the snow that had outlasted the sun’s hot rays in this shady section of the mountain. After a little bit, we reached a shooting range. While there was no one there on this day, it did looked like a popular area with shells all over the ground. If you were looking for a serene, peaceful, hike this could certainly put a damper on your day. The dirt road rounded a bend and walked past a gate which signified the “official” start of Squaw Mountain trail. The conditions from here to the summit were more of the same: rough old 4WD road. There was a slight elevation gain in the trail, but nothing crazy. After a couple of rounds of switchbacks, we reached the radio towers near the summit of Squaw Mountain. There was an option to continue straight to the towers or go right up towards the Squaw Mountain lookout tower. When we hiked out of treeline, the winds started to kick our ass. Juno was not having it at all and I honestly didn’t care for the strong gusts either. We walked another 200 yards or so to reach the base of the lookout tower.
I was not aware of this, but apparently you can rent out the tower to stay in. I came to realize this by walking up the narrow lookout tower stairs and found myself face to back with two complete strangers. I scurried down the stairs, hoping that neither person saw me. The winds were so bad at this point, all I wanted to do was to get below treeline. However, the sun was setting and the views into Mt Evans Wilderness and of Mt Evans, made me want to enjoy the scene. I found a wind block for Juno and myself and we sat for a bit, taking in the beauty.
After a bit, Juno’s patience wore thin and she started running around the rocky summit of Squaw Mountain. I got the memo and we started on our way down the trail. From car to car, this hike only took us about an hour and a half which was great. Squaw Mountain is a cool short hike with rewarding summit views, just be sure to climb the lookout tower stairs expecting to see guests inside. I would recommend Squaw Mountain for families, beginner hikers and think its a perfect hike year round. Although there is a chance to have snow in the winter months (November – March), its wide trail and small elevation gain is conducive to hiking in all seasons.