Summit hike perfect for beginners, Chief Mountain is a 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 make this trail, you’ll be excited to do high-altitude hikes to the substantial peaks!
We decided on Chief Mountain for a winter hike to prepare for high-altitude summer trails. Gorgeous in the winter! It started pretty chill initially, hiking through thick shaded spruce and fir-lined forest covered in deep snow.
Note: when it snows, wait a day; the trail will be packed down from previous hikers. In most cases, you only need Micro-Spikes to hike. However, in the Spring, you might encounter icy conditions from snow melting during the day and freezing overnight.
We broke tree lines, and our first views of the Continental Divide Range were unbelievable, with snow-capped peaks!
The alpine terrain has been wind-swept, a complete change from where we came from in deep snow.
The trees are dwarfed and gnarly, and the rock taluses are stunning. It is easy to see the effects of intense winds and weather near the summit.
I am amazed at how quickly we’ve made it to the treeline and have such incredible views on a short hike. An added treat found in select areas of Colorado is the scattered ancient rare bristlecone pines.
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Rocky, scraggly outcroppings to navigate through slick snow to reach the summit of Chief Mountain. A bit of a scramble but relativity easy and forgotten when reaching the top!
SUMMIT CHIEF MOUNTAIN
Views of Mt. Evans 14er, the Continental Divide, Longs Peak 14er, Grays and Torreys 14ers, the James Peak area, and Indian Peaks Wilderness in one direction and views as far south as Pikes Peak 14er.
(it’s a clear day today, so our views were unparalleled).
It’s unusual to have such remarkable views and such a high peak so close to the foothills, with the bonus of scrambling rocks to reach the summit. Want to impress your visitors coming to Colorado? This will do it in every season.
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, look for mile marker 18, Echo Mountain Ski Area, and a small sign that says, Chief Mountain Trail.
3 miles out and back
Elevation start: 10,800′ gain: 1,000′
Open to leashed dogs, hiking, snowshoeing
Arapaho National Forest
Clear Creek Ranger District
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FAVORITE COLORADO HIKES
Can't wait to see you on the trail!
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