Chicago Lakes Trail is a 8.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Idaho Springs, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,860 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

Directions from Idaho Springs: Travel southwest on Highway 103 approximately 14 miles to Echo Lake Campground which is located at the intersection of Highway 103 and Highway 5 on the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway. The trail begins at the Echo Lake Campground.

hiking
1 hour ago

Awesome trail! Started a little too late and made it nearly a mile from the end and it was getting too late and we were too tired to go any faster. Right now only need mircospikes, snowshoes don't seem necessary if you stay on the hard packed trail. Trees blocked most of the wind. Definitely will be going again!

hiking
20 days ago

Extremely beautiful!!! Make sure once you hit the first lake, to keep going. Did this hike over the summer and was beautiful the whole way! Not sure what the blue bomber is speaking of! Peaceful and gorgeous.

hiking
23 days ago

11/16/18 - packed snow/ice all the way up to the lakes. Carried snowshoes but didn’t use them, only used microspikes but could’ve been done without. Very few people past TH, nothing spectacular until the views above treeline. Damn kids doing there vaping stuff around Echo Lake, hopefully the fruity chemical flavors they crave will end up killing them sooner than later so when we go out to get fresh air, we can breathe it instead of breathing their second hand vape smoke!!!

hiking
23 days ago

Incredible trail! The snow makes the trek a little difficult but the views are beyond rewarding! Went last weekend and left feeling changed. Hop over to @2_Summit_Up on Instagram to see great pictures of what you can expect to see on this trail

25 days ago

Great trail so close to Denver. Hiked a week ago and got into some snow near first lake. Can't wait to go back next summer or when I get some snow shoes!

1 month ago

Honestly, really incredible views. Tough elevation climb and there’s a bit of uphill near the end on the way back which was especially challenging. We went in late October on a warm clear day and it was beautiful, challenging, and very fun. Enjoyed doing the labyrinth/maze on the side of the trail too, about half way up :)

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike on October 8, 2018. First snow of the winter. It was magical, nobody after the first two miles. saw moose! The mountains and meadows we're gorgeous with a couple inches of snow.

2 months ago

This is one of my favorite trail to date. Ample amounts of parking at trailhead, and beautiful scenery throughout. Very long hike close to 18 miles long, but we'll worth it. Didn't make it up to the top of the summit, due to rainstorms moving in. Would recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

This was my second time doing this hike and it was better than the first! Although the views leading up to the lakes are not amazing, once you get within a mile of the first lake, things really open up and make everything worth it. After the reservoir, the elevation gain really kicks in. The first mile of the trail is down hill so dont forget that you have a short hike back up to your car(up hill both ways!). The first Chicago lake has no defined trail but there are plenty of paths to get down there. The yellows, greens, and blues really make this lake stand out. The hike to the upper lake is all gain. There are a few spots of loose dirt which make it slow going but the climb is about 500ft in less than a mile to the top lake. Once you're up there, it all pays off. We had an amazing blue sky day with some gusts of wind rolling through to cool us off. Mount Evans sits behind the lake and offers amazing mountain views and a great place to relax. With the side routes to the lower lake and walking around, the total trip was roughly 11 miles but the trail itself is about 9 miles as it is listed here.

2 months ago

Beautiful hike!

2 months ago

Awesome

2 months ago

Beautiful and a perfect distance. Amazing views

hiking
2 months ago

What a beautiful hike! It is at the base of Mt. Evans 14er, so you get great views of the peaks around you as well as three lakes! At the top you get a great view down the valley; definitely worth the climb. We arrived at the trailhead around 7:30AM and got great parking, and only started seeing others towards the end heading back to our car. Definitely recommend this hike, it is one of my favorites in Colorado!

hiking
2 months ago

This is my favorite hike in Colorado. I typically only see one or two people/groups after you’ve made it up to the upper Chicago lake. But everyone you run into along the way is always very friendly & respectful. Echo lake itself gets VERY congested but most people remain there & don’t venture off to the Chicago lakes.
I went up yesterday & while hiking around the lower Chicago lake I noticed an abandoned campsite. It had been totally thrashed by time & weather. Just some bits of tent, garbage and boots... It was very odd. I thought it was worth making an account here to mention it. Never seen anything like that before on this hike.

2 months ago

Awesome hike. It goes downhill at first, which stinks for the hike back, but the lakes, views and colors are amazing. We went up to the second lake which made the hike closer to 10 miles

hiking
3 months ago

Love this hike, go to the second lake for stunning views. It’s not far past the first lake. Once you get out of the forest and past the private property the mountains are gorgeous. Parts of the trail are strenuous and you do have to climb towards the end of the hike when you’re a bit tired but on the whole a great experience. I was there on a weekday and only saw 6 others. The only downside is the mile on the gravel road on private property.

3 months ago

Pretty moderate hike. Start early to avoid crowds.

hiking
3 months ago

I thought it was such a great hike. Gorgeous throughout a great workout. Beautiful views. I’d recommend it to anyone.

backpacking
3 months ago

Challenging trail if carry a heavy backpack. Worth the effort. Make sure to go to the Upper Lake.

hiking
3 months ago

One of my favorite hikes consisting of lovely forests, peaceful streams, beautiful lakes and sweeping mountain views. This hike has it all! The trail is easy to follow and the hiker population is reasonable. That last incline to the final lake is short but intense so you will feel like you’ve really earned a rest by the peaceful waters and epic view at the top!

hiking
3 months ago

Great workout. Different views all the way to the lakes. Very pretty but the trail is lots of up and down both ways. Hiking poles are useful . Long hike, GPS showed over 10 miles round trip.. Views are worth it. Did not find the hike difficult just long and rocky. Took some careful footing on rocks.

3 months ago

This trail was amazing but I'm not sure how it's showing that it's 8.7 miles, I logged almost 12 miles round trip from the Echo Lake campground to the second lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Definitely an amazing trail. Took my Husky up and she loved it! This was my first real hike and even though it’s though on the feet, it’s definitely worth it!

hiking
3 months ago

Chicago Lakes trail is fantastic.

The views heading down the mountain and at the reservoir were impeccable.
Trail was a bit rocky with a fairly narrow passage here and there.
Wouldn’t recommend going for snow shoes.


Didn’t continue to the other two lakes.

hiking
3 months ago

UPDATED: The hike from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs Reservoir was beautiful, and only moderately challenging. Rocky, rooty and some elevation. We hiked to Idaho Springs Reservoir to fly fish Chicago Creek as it enters, but there was not much access and the creek was very small, so not worth the hike. We did catch a few small trout in the actual reservoir while we were out there, but overall, we won't be heading that way to fish again. If you are going to fish the reservoir, I'd recommend a spin rod to go after fish farther out in the lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Gorgeous area. If going on the weekend, get there early, parking lot does fill up, and area from echo lake to the Idaho Springs reservoir can get quite busy. Well shaded, good distance, pretty lakes, creek, and reservoir. Also dog friendly, expect to see a few. Highly recommend this hike!

hiking
3 months ago

a beautiful hike

hiking
3 months ago

I started this hike at 7:30 a.m. (second car in the otherwise empty parking lot) on a Monday and returned somewhere between 1:15-1:30 p.m. This hike was definitely challenging for me as a flatlander and I had to stop to take breaks quite often. I also spent quite a long time up at the lake *maybe 45 minutes or longer) and took another longer break during my return at the reservoir to soak my feet before making the final uphill climb. I think this hike is moderate for people who live at altitude and hike regularly, or who are otherwise very fit. If you're not much of a fitness enthusiast and don't workout very often, this is going to be a very challenging hike. If you're fit-ish to average on physical activity, this hike is challenging.

It really surprised me to see so many folks without adequate hydration and starting later. Do yourself a favor and start by 7:30 a.m. because there isn't much shade after you get passed 10:30 a.m. All of the regular rules apply: bring sunscreen and reapply once you're up at the lake, wear a hat and sunglasses, bring more water than you think necessary, and pack loads of snacks. I brought 64 ounces of water and drank about 3/4 of it. Didn't encounter too many bugs other than curious bees at the lake. The only wildlife I encountered were birds (saw an eagle at Echo Lake first thing) and chiding squirrels. Trail rules indicate dogs are required to be leashed but most were off-leash - doesn't bother me but it's something to consider if you don't like dogs.

Some additional navigation tips:
-Once you complete the initial descent and get closer to the water, look out for the primitive log bridge to cross
-Exiting the woods, take a left to follow the access road for about a mile; if you're early in the day, you'll pass the Idaho Springs Reservoir and see trout jumping out of the water to feed.
-Follow the access road past the cabins; the trailhead will be ahead on your right with a no-fee permit station. Fill out your permit and take the trail immediately in front of you, not the unmarked trial to your right.
-You'll pass a second sign indicating that you're entering the Mt. Evans Wilderness; don't worry, you're on the right trail.
-I tried finding the trail to the upper lake and was unsuccessful. I ended up following some of the unmarked trails that go around the lake and wound up in a boggy area just before the lake. Maybe avoid that and do more research on picking up the trail to the upper lake than I did.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike! It took us about 4 hours, not including the 20 or so minutes we spend at the top. Great views and plenty of places where the dogs can drink water from streams and lakes.

3 months ago

Amazing hike. Not that hard at all. Saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, and lots of marmots. Spectacular views

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