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Looking down on Peru Creek from the top of Argentine Peak. Photo by Angela Ufheil
The Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Colorado’s Thirteeners

​​Argentine Peak

This 13,738-foot stunner isn’t too challenging, or too far away, or too crowded. Argentine Peak is just right.

Trailhead Elevation: 11,593 feet
Summit Elevation: 13,738 feet
Hiking Distance: 4.5 miles, round trip
Time: Half-day hike
Drive Time From Denver: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Closest Town with Services: Georgetown
Where To Park: Waldorf Mine site

The Hike: The climb up Argentine Peak is all about balance. The route is relatively easy, but offers just enough incline and scrambling to make you feel like you worked for it. The ascent is short enough to be back in Denver well before happy hour, but not so brief that it’s not worth the drive. Crowds of hikers are rare, but the trail isn’t so deserted that you’ll miss out on a friendly Colorado hello. Argentine is, in short, perfectly harmonious.  

Less agreeable, however, is the bumpy ride up Leavenworth Creek Road. After a bit of teeth-rattling and pothole-dodging, peak-baggers should park at the historical Waldorf Mine site. There’s no signage, so look for a flat, dusty expanse to your left, roughly six miles in. The trailhead is on the northwest side of the lot. The first portion of the route—roughly 1.5 miles long—is a well-defined gravel path that off-road-capable vehicles can handle. A stream spills over the trail during this early portion of the hike, and unless a kindly Jeep-driver gives you a ride across, prepare to get your feet wet. Post-creek-fording, take the right fork up to a pond (hardy vehicles can park in a small dirt lot there) and then follow the path that turns left up the valley.

From here, facing south, you’ll see both Argentine Peak and a summit just to the north, Mt. Edwards. They’re connected by a rocky ridge, which you’ll hike to along a quad-torching dirt trail often made muddy by rain or snow. This is actually the steepest part of your ascent, but you should be prepared for just a bit of scrambling to traverse the ridge and reach Argentine Peak’s summit. Most of the rocks here are stable, but be cautious of loose scree—the ridge’s walls aren’t that sheer, but a tumble down them could easily break a leg.

A cylindrical marker with “13er.com” printed on it marks the summit, but with views like the ones Argentine Peak offers, you don’t really need to be told you’re on top of the world. Gaze back down into the valley, which for much of the year is dappled by green shrubs and patches of white snow. Then peer down the other side of the mountain, where Peru Creek ribbons its way into the distance, framed by other Front Range peaks, including Ruby and Decatur mountains. Square Top Mountain, another thirteener, sits to the south of Argentine. You can reach its apex via another rocky ridge to the southeast if you’re feeling ambitious. Return to your car the way you came.

The summit of Argentine Peak. Photo by Angela Ufheil

Fair Warning: No part of the hike is as likely to make you lose your nerve as the moment you and your car must leave paved Guanella Pass Road for Leavenworth Creek Road. The first stretch of Leavenworth’s gravely terrain is rugged and pothole-ridden, but the route smooths out quite a bit after that. Still, we recommend a vehicle with decent clearance. Unrelated: Bring an extra pair of socks for the creek crossing.

Getting There: Use I-70 to get from Denver to Georgetown, where you’ll peel off onto Guanella Pass Road before reaching Leavenworth Creek Road.

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