Camping At the entrance to the Wilderness Area there is a sign that camping is permitted as long as you stay 100ft (or 100 yards, not sure) from any water source. My backpacking trip along the Tuolumne River in Yosemite was a classic example of this: I was in my car, backpacking gear in my backseat, sitting at the stoplight before the freeway onramp and I had to decide if I was going to head left and go backpacking in Yosemite, or right and head to Zion. Tours are free but rentals run $10; hot drinks and small snacks are provided. Evan’s Wilderness. From Evergreen, take Squaw Pass Road to Echo Lake. Trailhead: Echo Lake Lodge Activities: Hiking, Camping, Skiing, Snowshoeing Closest City / Town: Idaho Springs, Colorado Driving Directions: From I-70, head west towards Idaho Springs. You can also head to the summit of Mount Evans from Chicago Lakes. During the winter snowshoes, crampons, and ice axe might be required. While the views from there are spectacular, Summit Lake itself is a wonderful example of the alpine environment. The second lake is above treeline. Begin typing your search above and press return to search. The trail climbs upward for the remaining 3 miles. The weather had been beautiful at our house at 8500’, but I know well that weather nearer to the Continental Divide and the high country is usually much different. Snowshoeing the Chicago Lakes Trail in the winter provides a greater sense of solitude. Evans Road, Echo Lake sits next to Squaw Pass Road, providing a great jumping-off point for numerous adventures. We were okay with that. Rather than regret not bringing them, I strapped them to my pack just in case. Many rental shops allow clients to pick up gear the evening before the rental date, and return it the morning after. The overlook platform is half a mile round trip along a wheelchair friendly path. Small creeks, just barely running past white-capped boulders, gurgle louder. Glissading Down Snowbanks Yet the sun beams gloriously many a cloudless day in midwinter, casting long lance shadows athwart the dazzling expanse.” Paradise Valley Snowshoe Loop 2.8 … I trudged along where I remember the trail being, and as I headed across the Mt Evans Wilderness boundary the trail became a bit easier to find (though I was still largely going on memory). For more information, call (970) 923-5700.Ten minutes from Winter Park, Devil’s Thumb Ranch hosts a full-moon ski, skate and snowshoe night. The Chicago Lakes hike begins at Echo Lake. The trail undulates ruggedly on a fast descent through healthy spruce and fir to Chicago Creek (1.1 miles : 10,342'). South Chicago Creek is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idaho Springs, Colorado that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. I’m famous for maneuvers like this. The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing. A short climb past a second Chicago Lakes Trail sign crests over a deep gorge carved by Chicago Creek with views of Mt Spalding and Mount Evans in the distance. Maybe that’s the golden rule. I stopped for a bit and ate a ProBar and drank some water and then pushed up the mountainside. White, who has … www.skiwp.com/skishop.html. Echo Lake" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Colorado's Quiet Winter Trails. – John Muir, Mountains of California. Wide-open, snow-covered meadows reflect enough light to make it seem bright as daytime. Echo Lake and Chicago Lakes Trails" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Snowshoe Routes -- Colorado's Front Range. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Call ahead to confirm group tours. The basic trip is between 2-3 miles on beginner terrain and heads out to a tepee where guides serve hot drinks and snacks. Length 4.9 miElevation gain 1948 ftRoute type Out & back Explore the full trail profile below for the Chicago Lakes which includes driving directions, map, and tips. NotifyChicago: Due to high waves and icy conditions, the Lake Front Trail … Really, this is a big reason when it comes to hiking and backpacking that I choose to venture out solo. The trailhead is located at 10,600′; the final destination is at 11,800′. The resorts usually offer rentals, but local ski shops are often cheaper. USFS Echo Lake Trailhead webpage. Though open space and county parks are great for close-to-home day trips, most have curfews. Please subscribe to our mailing list for the latest new posts. In places, the Chicago Lakes trail follows a ledge where drop-offs are steep and, depending on snow conditions, footing can be awkward for beginners. I decided on the way home that I give up on Chicago Lakes Basin as a winter hike, and I’ll save it for the warmer, greener days of summer where the trail is obvious and the wind is surely not as fierce. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State. Mineral Spring Gulch. The Chicago Lakes Trailhead has an elevation of 10,600 while it's destination has an elevation of 11,800. Groups split according to pace and experience, but the tours last about an hour. Some shops offer discounts for advance reservations. See Access and Trail Information for train and trail access, trail statistics, etc. Copyright 2020 goColorado. The trail winds through the woods for a few hundred yards, passing two more boulders in the meadow on the right (The Willows Boulders). To the east was a large waterfall with grand, sweeping views of Lower Chicago Lake. Leaving Echo Lake, Chicago Lakes Trail travels downhill for the first mile, here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. This section is the only downside to this trail: starting out with such a steep downhill means you end with a steep uphill. From here, the trail switchbacks steeply downhill to a stream crossing. Crested Butte Sports, Emmons Loop, Crested Butte (970) 349-7516 See chapter "43. I walked across frozen Echo Lake towards the Chicago Lakes trailhead, and was surprised to find the snow deeper than I expected and needed to stop and put on my snowshoes. At about 1½ miles, this is a good nighttime turnaround point. I had to be somewhat close to the lower lake, but the clouds were getting more serious-looking, so for the second time on this trail I decided to raise my white flag and head back. Kalama River Trail: 8 miles, 500 feet net elevation gain. Summit Lake Park provides easy access to the popular Summit Lake and Chicago Lakes Overlook. The hike to Chicago Lakes is a great hike near Denver, taking you to pretty mountain lakes and into the high country of Mt. WTA Pro Tip: At 1.75 miles, where the trail begins to switchback upwards, a spur trail offers a brief side trip up the valley to an overlook of Source Lake, the headwaters of the Snoqualmie River’s south fork. There’s no telling when things won’t go according to plan. Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management has closed portions of the Lake Front Trail from Oak Street to Ohio Street. See chapter "26. I decide at the last second to turn left instead of right, to keep going, or turn around. It wasn’t until I started snowshoeing that I felt I had really experienced a Colorado winter. To keep water from freezing on longer trips, add powdered sports drink and store bottles upside down. Distance: 6.5 miles Hop aboard Ballhooter Lift for a scenic ride to Snowshoe's best kept secret, Shaver's Lake. Complete freedom. The path here is narrowly cut into a steep cliff face, and as I expected, the snow was scarce, and I swapped out my snowshoes … And it wasn’t until I ventured out at night that I found the best kind of snowshoeing. We tried to avoid the willows by dropping down through the burn area to gain the Chicago Lakes Trail just south of the Idaho Springs reservoir. The main Chicago Lakes Trail continues to the right, passing a small stand of aspens. The trail will diverge away from Echo Lake and will traverse along a scenic valley with mountain views off in the distance. More of a casual meeting than an official tour, the trip is intermediate and climbs to a miners hut near the ghost town of Ironton. The trail rolls through some forest for a bit before opening up to a beautiful view of Mt Evans, Mt Spalding, and the Chicago Lakes basin. I’m guessing that this is quite common for this area in the winter – the Chicago Lakes Basin acting as a tunnel for the winds coming off of Mt Evans. For more information call (800) 228-1876. After refueling, you can continue the trail up the southern ridge to Summit Lake to properly finish the Chicago Lakes Trail. The upper lake is a great place to rest and have lunch. I am still not sure if this was a good idea, but it is what it is. The trail to the second lake, above treeline, is difficult to follow at times and is very steep. Yes, the trails around Bear Lake are always fantastic, and the snowshoe trails to Dream and Emerald lakes are enjoyable and beautiful. Even if a short trip is the plan, bring an extra hat, socks, gloves, water and food. There is nice dispersed camping at the lakes. Another option from Echo Lake is to snowshoe straight up the closed-for-winter Mount Evans Road. Clear Creek County 365 snowshoeing webpage. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. A partially full moon can be enough to light the trail on a clear night, but a few winter clouds can change everything. I doubted if my snowshoes would be warranted. Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. The trail switchbacks about 400 feet down through wooded hillside to a log bridge across Chicago Creek. 10 Snowshoe Drive Snowshoe, WV 26209 ©2020 Snowshoe Mountain Resort I had every intention of turning right at the bottom of my street, but instead, I pulled a sudden left from the right-hand lane. Nisqually Vista Snowshoe Trail: 1 mile, 200 feet net elevation gain. Admittedly, I don’t much relish in the making of set-in-stone plans.  Usually, my ideal plans are something along the lines of: I am going to go hiking tomorrow, I plan on going to one of four places that I have been eyeing (unless, of course, when looking over the map right before walking out the door else strikes my fancy), I will get to the trailhead somewhere around the time of sunrise, or perhaps, I’ll wake up and the weather will be shitty and I’ll decide to go tomorrow instead. I love the sound of nothing but aluminum crampons crunching over a packed trail, and, even better, the thumping of 25-inch tails on fresh powder. Rent any needed equipment ahead of time. Getting back to my car the wind was brutal – flinging my car doors around, and seeping in through my “windproof” clothing. The most recent is titled, “50 of the Best Snowshoe Trails Around Lake Tahoe,” and published by University of Nevada Press. Call the Nordic Center at (970) 726-8231 for more information. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. Yeah, we know, the lake itself isn't really a secret. Close out the evening with a bonfire, marshmallows and hot chocolate. This out-and-back trail is 9.5 miles round trip, and is one of the most popular snowshoe trails in the area — so be ready to meet other trekkers! The howling wind was back with a vengeance.  Last year I experienced the same relentless winds when I hit this spot on the trail – fierce cold wind driving across the frozen lake. www.maisondeski.com, Ouray Mountain Sports, 732 Main St., Ouray (970) 325-4284 From Echo Lake Park lot, follow the well-marked signs towards Chicago Lakes. Mount Rainier National Park . I love snowshoeing. You’ll pass three more mountain lakes as you punch up into the high country of Colorado’s Mt. Maybe I should have turned right afterall? Directions: The trail to the Chicago Lakes starts at the Echo Lake picnic area. Lincoln Lake Trail, accessible from Echo Lake year-round, is not as glamorous as its sister trail, Chicago Lakes, but is a wonderfully private and scenic trail favored by backpackers, horseback riders, snowshoers, and skiers. The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers guided full-moon ski and snowshoe tours for $15. Most people in the winter hike to the reservoir and turn around, and as I continued past the reservoir on the trail to the lakes  I found that I was the only one on that section of the trail that day as it was buried under deep snow drifts and there were no other footprints to be found. I had decided I would give the 9 mile hike to Chicago Lakes another try (I had attempted it last winter, but the weather had other plans), but if the wind was this fierce at the trailhead I’d be happier turning around. Mt. I can't say I have ever had to balance on downed trees wearing snowshoes, and it is quite the awkward experience. After crossing the bridge over the creek, you hike along a road for about a mile until you reach the Idaho Springs Reservoir. There are several great camping spots along the trail, in particular to the southwest of the first Chicago Lake. Staggeringly steep mountains seem even larger when they’re backlit by the glow of a heavy moon. The first mile of the trail switchbacks down to a creek crossing. Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. Located at 10,600 feet, Echo Lake is a small, shallow natural lake formed when glacial fill dammed drainage in the area. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. Heavily-trafficked beginner trails curl around Echo Lake, 14 miles south of Idaho Springs on Colorado 103. The problem is, … 3) for more information.  Sure enough, rounding up Squaw Pass, the wind raced with such force that my car wavered along the road. The Chicago Lakes trail branches off at the southwest corner of the lake and is a good option for those seeking a longer trip. Afterward, warm up and relax with a dip in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, which stays open late especially for the event. It has a reputation as being excellent for rainbow trout fishing. Since the bottoms will ice first, the lid won’t freeze shut. From Idaho Springs take W. Chicago Creek trail south to Echo Lake. Montrose: Colorado’s Gateway to the Southwest, Olympic Training Center: Going for the Gold in Colorado Springs, Chautauqua Park: Boulder’s Historic Landmark and Hangout, Elitch Gardens: Holding a Lofty Place in Denver History, Gold Digger: Inside the Phoenix Gold Mine, Rockhounding In Colorado: Where To Find Geodes, Galloping Goose Lift Winter Park: Save A Few Bucks And Ski Cheap, Forney Museum: Denver’s Transportation Hall of Fame, Denver’s Downtown Aquarium: Up Close and Personal, A Mile High: What You Can Do at 5,280 Feet in Denver. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Description: The Chicago Lakes Trail is a great hiking opportunity and location in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Temperatures drop swiftly and steeply. 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