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Chicago Lakes Trail #52

Difficult
 4.6 (40)

A beautiful high-altitude hike with lakes, flowers, and wildlife.


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Map Key

6.1

Miles

9.8

KM

Point to Point

12,864' 3,921 m

High

10,343' 3,153 m

Low

2,692' 820 m

Up

520' 158 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

89%

Max Grade (42°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly The first segment to the creek is often done by families. The creek at the bottom provides a nice resting area.

The south half of this trail is in the Mount Evans Wilderness. Wilderness rules apply. Dogs must be on a hand-held leash. No motorized equipment or mechanized transportation. No bikes.

Camps, campfires and stock, where allowed, at least 100 feet from water and trails. Group size limited to 15 people and/or 10 pack/stock animals per party. Certified weed-free hay is required for stock.

Description

Directions:
I-70 westbound, Idaho Springs exit #240 - Hwy 103. Go south for approx. 12 mile to the junction of Hwy 103 and 5, the trail starts behind the Echo Lake Lodge. There are several social trails in the area, simply choose the one that heads southwest. This trail can also be easily accessed by the Denver Mountain Parks picnic area and scenic path around Echo Lake.

Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile to Chicago Creek. The first mile can be somewhat steep in spots, with a lot of large rocks. After crossing the wooden bridge at the creek, head straight to a dirt road and take a left to head uphill. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. This first part of trail often tends to be the busiest, as many casual hikers or families will hang out at the creek for a while and then head back to the trailhead.

Just up the road Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Continue on the road past the reservoir and you'll come to an area with a few cabins and "Private Property" signs. Don't let the signs deter you, you're on the right track! Continue past the cabins on the road and you'll soon see an information sign off to the right with the trail heading further back.

This next part of the trail goes through an old burn area where, in 1978, 400 acres burned in the Reservoir Fire. Abundant wildflowers stand out against the burned trees.

Darting back into the trees, the first Chicago Lake sits at treeline. The trail to the second lake, above treeline, is difficult to follow at times and is very steep. Both lakes offer excellent views of surrounding peaks. The upper lake is a great place to rest and have lunch. After refueling, you can continue the trail up the southern ridge to Summit Lake to properly finish the Chicago Lakes Trail. A lot of people are satisfied with making the upper lake their turn-around spot, as the last section of the trail up the ridge is very steep and technical.

After reaching Summit Lake, you have the option to turn around and finish the round-trip hike, or continue the last 1000'+ elevation to summit Mt. Evans.

Flora & Fauna

After passing Idaho Springs Reservoir and the cabins, you'll find many wildflowers along the trail to the Chicago Lakes in the burn area.

Contacts

Shared By:

Aaron Stoneberger with improvements by Ralph Bradt

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 40 votes

#31

Overall
  4.6 from 40 votes
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Trail Rankings

#9

in Colorado

#31

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16,352 Since Aug 2, 2015
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Photos

Beautiful overlook of both Chicago Lakes and Idaho Springs Reservoir in the distance.
Aug 2, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Looking back towards the basin
Apr 5, 2018 near Georgetown, CO
Waterfall between Chicago Lakes.
Aug 2, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Crossing the creek is made much easier by this convenient bridge.
Jun 28, 2017 near Georgetown, CO
The weather holds as we head out along the Chicago Lakes Trail #52.
Jun 28, 2017 near Georgetown, CO
Log and rock bridge. Watch your footing!
Aug 2, 2015 near Georgetown, CO

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Check-Ins

Aug 1, 2020
Chad Homuth
Jul 29, 2020
Pamela Talley
Jul 9, 2020
Ann Zweig
Jul 3, 2020
Chris R
From Echo lake to Mt. Evans 6.1mi
Jun 21, 2020
Kat McKenney
Jun 7, 2020
Tess Harris
12.2mi
Jun 4, 2020
Mike Sanders
May 28, 2020
Courtney Arete