Clear Creek County, Colorado
Arapaho National Forest
Clear Creek Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Roads: 248.1, 724.1
Trail Type: Out and Back
Nearby Towns: Georgetown
Nearby Trails: Guanella Pass, McClellan Mountain
Trail Length: 10.33 miles
Elevation: 9,528 to 13,255 feet
Recommended by Dave H.
Recommended by Evan
The Argentine Pass and McClellan Mountain trails start very near each other and run parallel to each other for the first 3.5 miles. The Argentine Pass entrance to the network of trails is much easier than the McClellan Pass entrance until they intersect. There are highly visible power lines that always run to the left of the trail as you start Argentine Pass, and the trail itself is little more than a dirt road.
Stay on the main trail to keep on the Argentine Pass trail. After 3.5 miles you will see a few entrances to the higher portions of the McClellan Mountain trail on your right as you climb above the trees.
When you get to a wide, open area you will see mining tailings. This is the site of the old Waldorf Mine. Explore the area as you wish, but leave everything as you found it, taking only pictures. If you look up the side of McClellan Mountain to the north you can also see the site of the Santiago Mine.
Continue through the Waldorf Mine site and down into some brush. You will come to a well-marked "Y" in the road. Take the right-most trail to continue up the mountain to Argentine Pass itself or the left-most trail to visit the basin made by Argentine Peak and Mount Wilcox.
If you take the right-most trail first you will begin a steep and rocky climb to the top. There are a couple of switchbacks on the way up. The last switchback is tight, with the biggest rocks on the trail to climb. You can choose your line here to make things a bit easier, but this switchback gives the trail its high rating. Many SUVs will be turned back at this point, and turning around at this switchback can be daunting. If you have 4-wheel drive and decent clearance, however, the rocks at this point should be challenging but definitely possible.
Argentine Pass used to go through to the other side, and you can see the remnants of the trail as you look over to the valley below. This portion of the trail is now for hikers only and it is easily accessible from the Peru Creek 4x4 trail on the other side. There is ample parking at the pass, and it is almost always windy and fairly chilly.
Work your way back down the switchbacks and back to the "Y" in the trail. Take the sharp right turn to visit the basin below the pass. The mountain to the left is Mount Wilcox, and with Argentine Peak it makes a nice basin. Continue along the trail until you are at the top of a steep downhill. This is where the trail ends -- do not continue any further.
This part of the basin makes a great lunch spot because it is fairly sheltered from the wind. The views from here are spectacular.
Continue back the way you came to work your way back out.
Information last updated on October 4th, 2014.
- October 4th, 2014: ran by Ben, Bill S., Cody, Frank, Jeffrey, Julie, Matt K., Roger and Walt
- July 18th, 2009: ran by Austin, Bill S., Jeffrey, Jim, Julie, Mike C., Mike S. and Roger
- September 8th, 2007: ran by Bob R., Chad S., Don, Mark F., Mike C. and Mike S.
- July 30th, 2005: ran by Jim, Mark F. and Mike S.
- November 1st, 2003: ran by Bob S., Gary, Jim and Monica
From Denver, take I-70 to Georgetown. Turn left at the bottom of the exit to cross under the highway. Follow the signs to Guanella Pass (they are at practically every intersection). You can also spot the signs with the blue background and the Columbine flower.
Follow the pavement up through the switchbacks till you see a large dirt area off to the side of one of the switchbacks. You will also see a sign pointing to Waldorf here which is the start of the trail.
Meet on I-70 at the Starbucks in Downieville at exit 234.