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Chicago Lakes Trail #52

 4.6 (20)
Trail Mapped Wrong?


5.4 Miles 8.7 Kilometers


2,704' 824 m


-488' -149 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (33°)

12,863' 3,921 m


10,332' 3,149 m



All Clear 5 days ago
Some Mud - Some muddy spots at the far end of the second lake, dry everywhere else. Wildflowers are a week or two from full bloom. History

Getting forecast...

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

Aaron Stoneberger


Dogs must be on a hand-held leash. No motorized or mechanized equipment. 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.
Features: Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife [Add/Remove]
Family Friendly: The first segment to the creek is often done by families. The creek at the bottom provides a nice resting area.
Dogs: Leashed

Description [Suggest Changes]

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 [Suggest Changes]

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


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Your Check-Ins


Jun 14, 2018
Rob Laucius
Jun 9, 2018
R M Palmer
Went to lower Chicago lake. Camped lake side of trail. Hard to find ideal camping spots as only some treed areas and most are on slopes. Trail muddy 4.5mi
Jun 8, 2018
Emma Ramsay
Jun 7, 2018
Brian Rempel
Went up Chicago Creek Trail up to about halfway up the final climb to the summit. Returned via the road. Storms started rolling in.
Jun 5, 2018
Kristin Berg
Slow hiking +break for lunch. LOTS of climbing. My feet are killing me! Annie did great! 9.6mi
May 26, 2018
April Harvey
This hike I has magnificent views. It's a tough hike. But if your down for an adventure. Take WATER and a lunch.Lots of water. High altitude hiking… 12mi
May 26, 2018
Kate Jaquith
The trail becomes muddy after passing Lower Chicago Lake, with some soft snow on the final push to the Upper lake. 10mi
May 17, 2018
Alexander Knox

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 20 votes


  4.6 from 20 votes
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6,411 Since Aug 2, 2015
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