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Snowshoes were needed for this hike. Some spots had avalanche risk. It was a beautiful hike. Also a great place for backcountry skiing.

Great short hike with stunning views in every direction at the top. Packed snow most of the way 3/17, spikes a big help. Gorgeous day!

I would give this a moderate rating in the winter! Steep incline and icy at spots until you get to the top. Great views! I recommend for a short hike outside of the metro area

great trail with a steady incline pretty much the whole way up. I did this with my wife and two teen sons and enjoyed it very much. fantastic views once you break the treeline. it didnt seem to busy either.

9 days ago


I love this trail! It was difficult going uphill with the snow but hiking shoes and yaktrax were sufficient. I have hiked this in the summer as well and though I missed the beautiful lake at the top, it was cool to see the trail from a wintry perspective. The solitude was much needed and appreciated as I only saw a couple other hikers. Took about 3 hours round trip.

My boyfriend and I hiked this last Thursday and decided that the boot pack was good enough that we'd go without snow shoes. Mistake. We hiked for quite a while but eventually got to an area where the boot pack was non-existent and we started to sink down in waist-deep snow. We continued on for a while and tried to go up the right side of the gulch via some very slippery rock to get out of the snow, but eventually decided it was best to turn around. We LOVED this hike when we did it in the summer and would highly recommend. The lakes are spectacular.

Terrible. You have to hike up a road to even get to the entrance.

Used snowshoes on a well-packed trail to Naylor Lake. The trail to Silver Dollar is rocky and right near avalanche possibilities (that was our opinion, however, the amount of snow up on the mountains is not significant due to high winds.) It's a short hike up but with the help of alltrails.com, we were able to trek in the deep stuff off trail on the way down. We just had fun and meandered in the 3 ft. of snow off-trail. Thanks AllTrails! We didn't stray too far from the trail either but you don't want to get lost out there!

19 days ago

Beautiful hike that highly exceeded my expectations. Favorite aspect being that there is only a short (but steep) trek until you are above treeline in a tundra-like environment (the gulch). There are plenty of areas to explore, including the ridges that surround the area. The snow yesterday was the ideal texture for snowshoeing. Highly recommend.

This is one of my fave go-to hikes. I do some pretty tough hikes so I’ll be assigning degrees of difficulty to this. But the reason I love it so much is its proximity to Denver, relative ease for most skill levels, and possibly the best view of Colorado’s Front Range you’ll encounter. On a clear day you can see every 14er in the Front Range. Some extraordinarily clear skies this weekend and perfection for this hike. Right now the trail is packed snow with some ice. Traction is absolutely necessary but will create a better experience getting up and down both. Snow shoes are too much but micro spikes are perfect right now in this trail. Again, not required but you’ll have a better day both ways using them. At least until you get above tree line. Go up. Enjoy. Take some gorgeous photos. Reward on this hike for the effort is just hard to beat. Dig it.

Did this hike back mid September last year. straightforward until 1/4 above treeline. got icy and a bit snowy. had to don microspikes. quads were buurrnniinnngg. vast wind gusts at the top, some shelter but not much. simply amazing views! 3L water was enough. trail was well marked.

The access to the trail is at the lower area of the parking area.. think “parallel parking” on north side (uphill) of the road. It’s technically not a “Easy” Trail, where elderly and young kids can hike, there is incline all the way up the top and somewhat of a rock scramble at the top. But it’s a great view and hike. Snowpacked trail about 95 percent so I’d recommend microspikes just so you don’t have to worry about any slipping.

20 days ago

Great hike! As other reviewers have noted the trailhead is a little hard to find. But Google Maps got us there. The trail was completely snow-packed, so boots appropriate for that were essential. The views at the top are stunning! It’s not a hard hike - but it’s definitely a decent incline. I can’t wait to do it again.

Slippery, but good. Wear spikes if you got em.

Super calm serene hike up a beautiful mountain side, the views after the initial incline weigh out any negative thoughts of inclines as well as altitude. Super suggest the hike any time of the year.

20 days ago

March 3 hike was beautiful, but the last stretch towards Lower Mohawk Lake was a little too sketchy for me. Not much hard pack there. I regretfully had to turn around just after the cabin before the top, because there was nobody else around, didn’t seem very safe. Otherwise almost the entire trail and Spruce Creek Road are both super easy in boots without snowshoes. Highly recommend poles, got icy in parts especially on the way back in late afternoon.

First 14er. The gain in elevation was harder than expected for my friend and I, which meant the hike took longer than we had planned. Best views I've ever had and the experience was exhilarating! Make sure you have plenty of water, protein and healthy fats snacks(nuts, bars, etc.). Went in October 2016, temp went back and forth between just a hoodie and needing a wind resistant, thermal coat.

thank you to the snowshoers and Intrepid hikers who came before me! I forgot my snowshoes in Denver and thought I would have to turn around! I hiked in mid morning on March 2nd and was able to stay and find the trail due to it being pack down. the first mile is straight-up and a great workout but the views are worth it!

The views at the summit of Chief Mountain are absolutely SPECTACULAR. I was actually speechless when I first came to the top and saw the 360-degree views of the Rockies. There were many 14ers in view. I will 100% be coming back to do this hike again.

I did a bunch of research for this hike and kept seeing conflicting points for directions, hiking distance, and difficulty of the hike. Let me be the one to clarify for future hikers:

There are actually two “trailhead” entrances between mile marker 18 and 19 that will get you to the second half of the Chief Mountain Summit.

1) The first is the one that I (mistakenly) took. This was just after mile marker 18 on Rt 103. There is a small parking area across from the entrance, which is unmarked. It is at the top of a hill, not the bottom. This (I believe) is the Old Squaw Pass Rd. It’s flatter and much easier for those weekend warriors who are actually expecting an easy trail. It also adds a mile R/T to your overall hiking distance - which is why some people on here clocked in at 4mi. This is a great cross-country skiing trail if you’re interested! If you take this, you will take a sharp right and start inclining about a mile in to your hike, where there is a wooden sign that says Chief Mountain with an arrow.

2) The second option is the actual Chief Mountain Trail, which is located just before mile marker 19 on 103. The Echo Park ski lifts are on the same side as the parking for the trail. The actual trail (on the other side of the street) is also poorly labeled, with a small wooden sign that says Chief Mountain trail. This is the way I walked back (and ended up a mile from my car...super fun!). This is about a half mile shorter than the other trail option, but I would absolutely put it in the moderate category. I’m not sure who designates whether a trail is easy or moderate, but I’ve noticed several trails that were much harder than their designations. For someone who isn’t used to 11,000ft altitudes or who isn’t hiking 3-4x a week, you’ll probably be out of breath for this. The good news is that it’s only 3mi. This trail is fairly narrow, and if you make the mistake of stepping off the path you will be in 2ft drifts.

Hopefully this helps prevent some confusion!!

I did this hike in trail running shoes and was totally fine without additional traction. You could probably use snowshoes but it’s not necessary. Definitely avoid tennis shoes or shoes without traction - the trail is totally snowpacked and slick at points. It was not windy when we went - it was about 25 degrees and sunny with maybe 10mph gusts that we could only feel above the tree line (for perspective, it was 57 and sunny in Denver when we got home).

We went at 10am on a Thursday and we saw a total of 6 people - one group of 4, 2 cross-country skiers, and 1 girl with her dog. It was super quiet and the snow was pristine off the trail. It was perfect!!

24 days ago

Did this trail today. First mile can easily be done in just hiking boots, definitely need snow shoes the last half. Lost the trail, but headed up in the same general direction . Saw a few people on our way back.

25 days ago

Stunning views. Did this hike on 2/25. No spikes needed but VERY windy conditions.

It’s a little hard to find at first. It’s directly across from the Echo Mountain ski lift.

27 days ago

Did part of this hike with a friend. The first part of the trail was packed as the last reviewer noted. However, once we got through that first part, we lost the trail completely. There didn't appear to be any markers anywhere. We knew generally what direction we were headed, but the new snowfall made things difficult especially with tree wells. It was incredibly windy and very chilly and about 3 or so miles in we turned around. We ran into a couple of other people - they also lost the trail and turned around. The weather was pretty bad, but it was still pretty nonetheless. We are intending to try again on a day when the weather is better.

off road driving
30 days ago

Butler gulch is named after my great grandfather, Henry Butler as he ran the mine on the top looking for nickel. The old blown down cabin is where my great grandparents stayed and where my grandma would spend her time as a kid. If you’re hiking up the road you’ll come across an old little bridge crossing the creek that my grandmother built as a kid. You can go through the blown down cabin and still find mason jars. Every year my family and I would drive to the top (we were allowed to and still are) camp and clear the entrance of the mine. I haven’t been there for years since I was a kid but what I can remember it’s a beautiful place with a bunch of history. We plan on returning this summer of 2018 to clear the road.

Awesome views . Short and sweet

Went up on snowy trails today with yaktraks on my boots. Windy at the top, but the hike was easy, even in the snow. Out and back in just under two hours.

Hiked in snowshoes. Not heavily traveled today. Nice out and back to view the frozen lake. Highly recommend the trail.

1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful. Didn't make it anywhere near the falls though as we ended up waist-deep in snow! Still a great workout though!

1 month ago

Completed on 2-11-2018.

This is a great trail to snowshoe that doesn't seem to be heavily trafficked during the winter months. I recommend snowshoes with a lot of float. Throughout the day I was falling waist deep in snow and breaking new trail. While fun, I wished I had brought tails for my snowshoes. Strava did record the distance just shy of 8 miles rather than noted 6.4.

Very easy trail to find. Take exit 218 then look North for the sign pointing to parking lot.

The lower third of the trail is a wide well packed trail. There is a pretty significant elevation gain over the first mile but this part of the trail is heavily used by skiers and snowshoers. The trail is wide and the snow is well packed down.

After the initial climb the sounds of i70 vanish and the trail levels off a bit, though it is a sustained climb the entire way up. The trail becomes much less traveled once the skiers head away from the main path and up their own steep slope to play. But if you're like me you're always looking for the less traveled sections of Colorado.

The middle third of the hike is through an open prairie before entering the trees. There is a 200-300 yard prairie section which had some of the deepest snow on the hike. The trail had been wiped out by an avalanche down Mount Machebeuf. There was a lightly broken trail created below the affected. The snow here is very deep and snowshoes with a lot more float would have been nice. Once you enter the trees you begin skirting the slope of Machebeuf. You are within treeline through most of this section so I wasn't worried about avalanches, but the slope is severe enough that I felt fatigue in my down slope leg from continually supporting me.

The final third is an aggressive slope made up of a few switch backs but mostly runs strait up. The snow is deep and I had to fight from continually sinking. I didn't see any evidence of an avalanche, but the final slope looked like it would be a great area for everything to go. I was pretty careful none the less. Herman Lake is probably more exciting in the summer, but it was satisfying to reach the summit.

I did this in the summer. Fantastic views considering the relatively minimal effort needed to get to the top. Short, sweet and rewarding!

1 month ago

Beautiful Winter Wonder Forest to Snowy Magical Peaks. Perfect Snowshoe hike. Stayed 5 hours exploring the beautiful terrain but was not sure if we were on the traditional summer trail as there were so many trails going every which-way. We followed a main one that seemed like a road but then it broke off to a few false summits followed by delightful views that kept urging us to go farther and farther. Multiple windy bursts at the top broken up by peaceful moments of calm. The snow was looking so cool the way the wind shapes it almost like another planet.

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