Chicago Lakes Trail

HARD 514 reviews
#1 of 6 trails in

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.

8.7 miles
1860 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips


trail running






wild flowers





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.

9 hours ago

Beautiful ! Busy trail but gorgeous views.

15 hours ago

I believe this trail is difficult because the way back is just as hard- or harder- than the way in. Total time: 3 hours in, 3 hours out! But it was great. Shade, changes in scenery, lakes, and beautiful flowers. When you get to the first lake, there are different trails so be careful- we got lost in a super muddy area that probably added 20 mins. Very very busy, the earlier you can get there the better! Completed on 6/23- perfect weather, muddy close to lake

1 day ago

Beautiful views and lots of shady spots. Kinda crowded, but you could find a parking spot still.

2 days ago

We hiked today (Friday, 6/22), and it was really wonderful! The trail actually begins not at the campground, but next to the Echo Lake Lodge. The hike is varied terrain and amazing views, especially near end of official Chicago Lakes Trail. We continued on to see the Upper Chicago Lake and it was so worth it! The "hard" rating is accurate! The elevation gain as you head back to car is a little bit nuts. Would have liked better markings on trails, especially between the lakes. We also had quite a variety of weather today. We had rain 8:45-10:15 or so, sometimes quite windy and cold. We had sunshine and blue skies, then more sprinkles. The trails did have a few muddy spots and wet/slick spots due to weather. We saw a deer, no other large animals. The wildflowers are GORGEOUS right now! We hiked about 6 hours (not in a hurry) and hiked nearly 11 miles and equivalent of 170 flights of stairs.

3 days ago

Great trail. Amazing scenery. Too many people especially for a Thursday morning-hence the 4 stars.

5 days ago

The trail from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs reservoir is pretty rough and honestly uneventful, work like hiking. Once you get up to that lake, it’s more open hiking in the Chicago lakes vale.
The camping at Echo Lake is cool. I really enjoyed having a burger and beer at the lodge when I got back.

8 days ago

Loved it! Was not able to figure out how to get up to last lake, but well worth the trek. Will go again and find it, and summit Mt. Evans.

9 days ago

Stunning hike. Took us 5 hours roundtrip to Upper Chicago Lake and back to the car. About 45 minutes was spent bushwhacking through willows to get to the lower lake. There are easier routes supposedly if you continue to the end of the lake before the trail heads to Upper Chicago Lake. It is a steep, short hike to Upper Chicago Lake but well worth it. We didn’t have time to continue to Mt. Evans due to a late start unfortunately so I’ll be back.

9 days ago

Hiked this morning. More like 10 miles than 8. It’s tough. Lots of rocks and incline but great views. Made it to the end but lost the trail and couldn’t figure out how to get up to the final lake. Super marshy and muddy near waters edge. No matter. Still spectacular. Took me little over 4 hours with a 20 minute break. Started at 9am. Dark clouds rolled in at 11 when I got to the lake so be aware of the weather. I didn’t linger.

10 days ago

Clean and dry! Awesome week day hike and plenty of places to stop and fish along the way!

Did this trail 6.10.18.
Was a stunning day. Gorgeous hike, strenuous as you hike up to upper lake.
Will kick your butt right at the end as you have to go back uphill the echo lake.

11 days ago

Amazing hike with one of the best views overlooking a canyon in the Rocky Mountains! Definitely a hike that will take you quite a bit of time so be prepared with enough water and food! The hardest part of the hike is definitely the mile incline back to echo lake.

12 days ago

My daughter and I only finished about 6 miles, but every mile was gorgeous. Definitely doable for kids who enjoy more challenging hikes.

13 days ago

This is an amazing hike. It ended up being 11.2 miles round trip with 2500 elevation gain. Make sure you go up to the 4th lake at the end, it’s definitely worth the extra effort for the views. Got pretty muddy in spots but not awful. Great hike!

15 days ago

Very muddy as you approach the lakes.

15 days ago

Gorgeous trail and sooo close to Denver!

18 days ago

Great hike! Definitely an Colorado classic. Hiked June 4 and no snow at all. Just a bit muddy heading up to the upper lake.

19 days ago

Beautiful hike today. No snow until one small patch near upper lake. The route to upper lake is super steep. Worth it!!!!!! Gets a bit windy up there. The only downside to this hike is the mile up at the end! It’s grueling when you’re tired. This is definitely a “moderate to hard” hike. It’s not a 14er but it’s steep. From beginning to end. No crampons or. Yak tracks needed now.

21 days ago

Beautiful trail, just a small section that was muddy and a tiny bit of snow before making it to the upper lake. The uphill at the end is painful, but definitely worth it!

21 days ago

Great Hike. The trail is completely clear and there is no snow all the way to Chicago Lake, looks as if it would be a viable option for an overnighter at this point in the season. As other reviewers have noted, you can get down to the lake right as you come upon it during the hike, there is some mild bushwacking to get down there, but not hard at all. As you approach the lake, the ground is very soft and somewhat damp, but it's not a big deal. I had running shoes on and my feet got a little bit wet, but they dried out pretty quickly on the return hike. Temperatures at the lake were in the high 60's to low 70's, only a slight breeze. Great all around hike!

22 days ago

Stunning. Tough. Beautiful.

22 days ago

It is a really beautiful hike, not to steep and pretty mellow most of the way. One small section near the lakes was a little muddy but not a big deal. Views were incredible. Loved seeing all the hikers with their dogs. :)

23 days ago

Let me be real with you. This hike is absolutely gorgeous but difficult. Be sure to wear hiking boots as it is very muddy towards the lakes. What makes the hike so tough is that the last mile to your car is uphill after your legs are already tired from the long hike.

23 days ago

Great hike! However... it is EXTREMELY muddy on the trail getting up to Upper Chicago Lake. Ended up turning back and did not venture to the top. Totally bummed, but will try again later this summer.

25 days ago

I was here on 5/29. Amazing trail. Gorgeous scenery throughout. Starts off with an easy downhill for the first mile and then a gradual incline with some steeper areas for the rest of the hike. The only downside was I lost the trail near the lakes—which is weird because it’s very well maintained until that point—and couldn’t find a way down to the shore. Lots of marmots and beautiful birds tho! One of my favorite all time hikes!

26 days ago

No ice on the res when I went on Saturday.

26 days ago

Can anyone tell me if the Idaho springs res has iced off yet?

27 days ago

5/27 amazing views at the top! The last mile or so was very muddy and snowy. The upper lake was very windy, but beautiful! I’ll definitely be back to do this one again.

28 days ago

Mileage and elevation gain both more than what’s listed here. The last mile + is a climb. Make sure to bring extra water and count on it being longer than anticipated!!

28 days ago

Best trail I've hiked so far in CO. Always looking for challenging trails that are also dog-friendly. We ended up only making the Idaho Springs Res. and stopped at the Mt. Evans summit trail (which adds another 6+ miles).. scenery is beautiful, trail is very well noticed the whole way. Next time will prepare for the summit of Mt. Evans!

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