Chief Mountain Trail is a great beginner summit hike. It’s a decent climb, right from the start for 1.5 miles while gaining 1000 ft in  elevation. 360 degree views at the summit rival those of Colorado’s 14ers.

Once you do this trail, you’ll be excited to do more high altitude hikes in the substantial peaks!

 

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).

 

START IN A THICK FOREST AND END AT TREE LINE

We opted for a short day hike and this trail surpassed our expectations. Surprisingly beautiful hiking through a thick shaded spruce and fir lined forest, then breaking tree line into open air and our first views of Mt. Evans and the Continental Divide.

 

 

ALPINE TUNDRA on ROCKY TERRAIN and the VIEWS BEGIN

The alpine terrain, a complete change from where we just came. The trees are dwarfed and gnarly as we hike up. We’ve turned east on the trail wrapping around Chief Mountain before starting up to the summit. The trail has gotten rocky leaving the path not as defined as on the hike up.

Looking closely at the alpine tundra, tiny purple and white flowers are covering the landscape.

 

Chief Mountain Trail, Mt. Evans Wilderness, hikes near Idaho Springs, Colorado trails, Colorado, Best hikes in Colorado, Hikes with views, Evergreen hikes, hikes near Evergreen, Echo Lake, Summit Lake, Hiking Mt. Evans, Idaho Springs hikes, off the beaten path, Colorado adventure

 

THE ROCK TALUSES and PINE LADEN TREES were SPLENDID

I am amazed how quickly we’ve made it to treeline and have such incredible views on a hike this short. Even seeing the ancient rare bristlecone pines is an added treat.

 

 

ON TO THE TOP OF CHIEF MOUNTAIN SUMMIT

Hiking up a couple of switchbacks through talus and scattered trees we are on our way to the top. 

 

 

 

Chief Mountain Trail, Mt. Evans Wilderness, hikes near Idaho Springs, Colorado trails, Colorado, Best hikes in Colorado, Hikes with views, Evergreen hikes, hikes near Evergreen, Echo Lake, Summit Lake, Hiking Mt. Evans, Idaho Springs hikes, off the beaten path, Colorado adventure

 

Up ahead rocky, scraggly outcroppings to navigate through to reach the summit of Chief Mountain. A bit of a scramble but fairly easy and forgotten when reaching the top!

 

 

Mt. Evans right before our eyes…

 

 

And the Continental Divide. Breathtaking…

Views of Longs Peak 14er, Grays and Torreys 14ers, the James Peak area and Indian Peaks Wilderness one direction and views as far south as South Park, Lost Creek Wilderness area and Pikes Peak 14er. (its a clear day at the moment so our views were unparalleled).

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY!

Booth Lake Trail – Vail, CO

Mohawk Lakes Trail – Breckenridge, CO

Lake Kroenke Lake Trail – Buena Vista, CO 

Inter-Laken Trail – Twin Lakes, CO 

 

 

Within 30 minutes the clouds started to really build-up and it was not long before we heard thunder from afar. Hard to know to look at the sky when we arrived!

 

 

 

 

Time to go down. Lightening in Colorado is nothing to mess with. My favorite hikes are hiking above treeline and my biggest fear is lightning. Makes me a weather fanatic, always checking before I go and getting up there early.

 


 

 

We made it before the rain and this hike is just a reminder of how quickly the weather changes at high elevations.

It’s unusual to have such remarkable views and such a high peak so close to the foothills with the added bonus of scrambling rocks to reach the summit. Want to empress your visitors coming to Colorado, this will do it.

With this short hike, add Summit Lake Park (sensational) and Echo Lake Lodge Gift Shop (known for their pies) to your day just up the road.

PARKING

There isn’t a parking lot at the trailhead and it’s easy to miss, The signpost is tucked in the trees. A large patch of pavement for parallel parking is available with limited parking on the side of the road. You’ll see other cars there (maybe) otherwise it’s just past the Echo Mountain Ski Area if coming from Evergreen (12 miles up 103) or it’s just before the Echo Mountain Ski Area if coming from Idaho Springs on 103.

LOCATED: on Squaw Pass Road (103) heading to Mt. Evans from Evergreen and south on 103 from Idaho Springs heading to Mt. Evans. Either way, you come. Look for mile marker 18, Echo Mountain Ski Area and a small sign that says, Chief Mountain Trail.

TIDBITS

3 miles out and back

Rated: moderate

Trail #58

Elevation start: 10,800′ gain: 1,000′

No restrooms

Family friendly

Open to leashed dogs, hiking, snowshoeing

Arapaho National Forest

Clear Creek Ranger District


 

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).