Not far from the bustling city is the beautiful hike on the Chicago Lakes Trail. Located near Echo Lake in Idaho Springs, this spectacular hike will certainly not disappoint. It is long, rocky, and steep in some areas, but it is worth the trek to the lakes to take in the backdrop of Mt. Evans and the surrounding scenery. I took the Evergreen Parkway exit off I-70 and then Squaw Pass Road so that I could experience the expansive views of the mountains and fall colors on my way up.
There’s something about a hike that makes me incredibly appreciative of our gorgeous landscape. Each way you look there are different views to capture. Whether it is lush and green or a rough, rocky terrain, I always pause to appreciate my surroundings. Chicago Lakes Trail offers a wide variety of ever-changing scenery. A narrow, stony, up and down path launches this hike and gives terrific views of a valley below. Just when you are beginning to wonder just how long trail is (approximately 4.8 miles to the second lake) and if it is going to be like this the entire way, it opens up to a wider, less rocky terrain. The trail follows the Indian Springs Reservoir Road until it reaches the reservoir. A lovely place to pause and take a breather, the reservoir is serene and offers a pretty, distant view of Mt. Evans.
Past the reservoir, follow the trail that will take you through a burn area that is the result of a fire in the 1970’s. As you climb you will pass aspen groves, cliff walls and sprawling meadow areas before reaching the first of the two Chicago Lakes. Several of the boulders are massive and make you feel very small when passing by (or standing next to one as my daughter demonstrates in this photo).
The remaining portion of the hike to the Upper Chicago Lake is steep and rocky. It is approximately a half mile from the lower lake to the upper. Don’t let the climb scare you; it is worth the effort to reach the second lake. The crystal clear water, the majestic backdrop of Mt. Evans, and a cascading waterfall are a few of the sights that make this trek worth it.
Pause for a breath, a picnic and take in your surroundings. It is exquisite up there at 11,700′. Enjoy the splendor of this magnificent place before navigating your way back down. The grandness of this site is beyond measure and is truly a wonderful way to spend a day.