Chicago Lakes Trail is a high-altitude delight as it winds its way to two alpine lakes into the Mt. Evans Wilderness. Wildflowers, wildlife, and views are abundant in summer. Fall and Winter hold magic as the snow settles in on the peaks. A favorite local trail!
ECHO LAKE PARK
It’s 7:30 am and the beginning of fall. The air is crisp and nippy. Echo Lake simmers at our arrival at the trailhead. We head deep into the pines as we start our hike. Beautiful blue skies ahead as the sun is just beginning to show up on the higher peaks.
I bundled in my layers, hand warmers, and beanie and slowly hiked towards the sun for warmth. It’s rocky with steep edges as we switch back down, down, and down. The views here are stunning!
Cross Chicago Creek, the trail becomes a mile upward dirt road lined with the beginning colors of fall gleaming in the sunshine. Yellows, oranges, and reds popped everywhere before reaching Idaho Springs Reservoir.
IDAHO SPRINGS RESERVOIR
Idaho Springs reservoir sparkles with aqua greens, and this is my first time seeing it without it covered in snow. Gorgeous! The lake is a stopping point for many looking for a shorter hike. A popular area for anglers.
We hiked a mile & 1/2 past the reservoir in winter in only microspikes. It’s a beauty in winter. > Read our Winter Trek!
Trekking poles give you more stability and help you keep your balance on tricky terrain. Our favorite is >“Carbon Trekking Poles” by CNOC Outdoors. They are based in Oregon.
ENTERING MT. EVANS WILDERNESS
We are getting excited as we begin our ascent to the alpine lakes. Entering Mt. Evans Wilderness, the trek gets wilder across large rocks and the incline steeper. Fun!
As we hike into glorious views, you can hear aspen leaves rusting in the slight breeze. It’s nothing short of amazing. Now its time to take off layers. The sun is intense and warm.
A welcome break from the uphill, rock incline. But not for long. It’s refreshing up here, quiet, serene. Only the sounds of squirrels warn of our arrival as they get ready for winter. Several have crossed our path with a treasured pinecone.
LOWER CHICAGO LAKE
The first lake! Several Bull Moose are keeping us alert as they look for food along the shoreline below us. Hidden in the shrubs, they are hard to see but happy we spotted them from afar and not on the trail. (an area famous for moose sightings).
UPPER CHICAGO LAKE
As we pass the first lake, getting to the upper lake gets tricky! It’s short but steep; over boulders, we go, but the reward is incredible. It is fantastic up here!
Alpine lakes surrounded by tundra are startling in their fall colors. So picturesque it looks unreal, like a painting. Finding a rock to take in, looking below the Lower Lake, and looking behind at the Upper Lake kept us here for a while until the windchill became too much. A quick lunch and down we go.
Trailhead is located at Echo Lake.
12 miles out & back
Elevation gain – 2,536′
Upper Lake Elevation – 12,868′
A popular area so sometimes parking is tricky. Come early.
Chicago Lakes Trail enters the Mt. Evans Wilderness
Open to horses and leashed dogs
Nearest Towns: Idaho Springs, Evergreen
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