Chicago Lakes Trail

HARD 378 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.

DISTANCE
8.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1860 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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.

snowshoeing
4 days ago

Have done this hike a few times but never in winter. Snowshoes were critical, didn't use microspikes. Also we took a pretty big accidental detour both on the way in and out, so if you're hiking this in the next few days, follow your GPS and not our tracks.

11 days ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike with the frozen lakes. Only saw a few people on a Saturday. The trail gets extremely hard to find the last mile. I lost it and ending up trekking through waist deep snow. Found the trail on the way back and it was much easier. I’d bring snowshoes. If you can stay on the trail, you probably won’t need them. But they’re very worth having. No crampons needed, minimal ice.

hiking
18 days ago

Hiked on 2/3/2018

Ive been wanting to do this hike for almost 4 years, since I moved to Colorado and first went to Mt Evans. Finally went there today and was a beautiful hike. I would say though unless you are a big winter hiker that you save this for Spring / Summer. A pretty difficult winter hike. I have never used poles or snowshoes (ill just walk through almost waist deep snow, I enjoy it) but both could help towards the end.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH SNOWSHOES UNLES THEY ARE NEEDED, EVERYONE THINKS JUST BECAUSE THERE IS SNOW YOU NEED THEM. MAKES YOUR HIKE A LOT MORE DIFFICULT USING UNNECESSARY GEAR!! WAIT FOR THE SNOW TO BE AT LEAST A FOOT OR 2 DEEP!

First 1/3 of the hike was a lot of up and downhill through the trees with some scenic views.

Middle 1/3 was a lot easier and pretty chill.

Final 1/3 had a lot of snow, wind and lost the trail a few times. I followed someones trails through 2 - 3ft deep snow at points and through trees. Probably not the actual trail but the only footprints out there. Very beautiful and scenic at the end. Cant wait to come back in Spring / Summer

hiking
22 days ago

Hiked to the lake today. Didn’t use or need spikes/snowshoes. Snow was definitely less packed towards in the last mile since most don’t make it. Average hike most the way but spectacular finish. Definitely want to do it again in the summer when I can spend more time at the end and climb the surrounding peaks.

hiking
1 month ago

Hike done 1/20, pre-snow. The initial part of the trail is quite rocky until you get down to the bottom of the valley, but do-able if you watch your footing. I didn’t go all the way due to time constraints, but good views up by the reservoir and a good place to stop for a snack break. Definitely keeping this hike in mind for future trips!

hiking
1 month ago

I did this hike with a friend over the weekend and people have created quite a few sets of tracks so its hard to find the actual trail to Chicago lake but there is enough snow for snowshoes but they certainly are not necessary. The views were beautiful but prepare for some wind that will make it feel a bit colder.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful trail to go on. My boyfriend and I didn’t complete it because we ran out of time and didn’t want to hike along a road for a mile. I’d love to come here again another time and do the trail once more but in full.

2 months ago

12/12/17 hiked to the second lake with crampons. Great day and conditions were great on the trail. A few icy patches leading to lakes. Had the lakes all to myself! Sunny, 40 degrees, no wind, and in December . . . Grateful!!

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this for the 2nd time on 11/25/17. Be sure to bring winter gear/traction during this time of the year. I encountered a lot of snow (1-2 ft) trying to access upper Chicago lake. Both lakes were pretty much frozen over. Also, the wind was kicking that day but made for an epic show around the upper lake bowl (think dust storm but with snow). Although rated as a hard trail, it's not that bad for beginners who want to get out of their comfort zone and catch some great scenery.

2 months ago

great day hike

2 months ago

This is a beautiful hike once you locate it. Note to future hikers: stay on Echo lake trail (start from the lodge) until the log fence ends then go left around the fence and take your immediate right. (There is a large log blocking the trail so hard to tell.) Don't go to your left up the wide steep, wide and icy hill. It dead ends at 1.77 miles. GPS will not catch from this map that you are off course until you have spent ample time. I wouldn't recommend sliding down the cliff to catch the trail although you are parallel to the trail below. I saw a lot of people including my group make this mistake. It adds time and may put a damper on you making it to the second lake. Also the trail does follow the road from the trail crossing to the reservoir. there is sign but could be packed with snow. Conditions were icy and windy. We used yack tracks most of the way both directions. The path is packed currently so we didn't need snowshoes. enjoy this hike there are lots of photo opportunities.

3 months ago

Hiked this today. A mix of snow, dirt, and ice on the trail. Made it up to the second lake without spikes, but wore spikes on the way down. Found ample parking at the trailhead when we began at 8:45.

hiking
3 months ago

Good overall hike. Made it to the second lake which was absolutely beautiful. Pretty much the whole trail was covered in a little bit of snow so you should have good waterproof boots or shoes but nothing too extreme. Getting to the second lake was a little steep and there was a little bit of ice so footing was slipping a bit. I was going at a pretty good clip and took me 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours back. Good stuff.

3 months ago

Done this one a few times, it's one of my favorites. Make sure to make it up to the second lake! Definitely worth the effort.

hiking
4 months ago

No fresh snow meant a few spots were icy, and then muddy on the way back, but no traction or poles were necessary. The hike up to the second lake definitely has a better view. The trail follows a private road for about a mile, which might be the least pretty part of the venture.

4 months ago

Just went on this hike today. We hiked to the lower lake which was about 8.5 miles round trip. Took us around 4 1/2 hours including stops to take in the scenery. It was a beautiful hike! It was snowing when we got there and was pretty cold the first mile or so. Lots of wind as well. Definitely need good hiking shoes with good grip. The last mile on the way back is tough, because it's all up hill. It did Warmed up as the morning went on, but the trail was slippery at times and muddy.

hiking
4 months ago

This trail is nuts if you're not experienced. My husband and I came here a year ago in our honeymoon and hiked different trails all over Colorado throughout 6 days.
This was by far one of the toughest. We are from flat ole Texas and not used to climbing uphill so much. We did the hike again, after we moved here last week, for our anniversary. Still were only able to make it to the lower lakes! There is a rough bit right before the second lake that is basically a solid mile up a steep hill.
And while the lakes were gorgeous, there's fencing and cement walks when you get to them and that kind of takes away from it. We really enjoyed the forest last year in the snow though, definitelyrecommend going in the cold or else you'll be pouring sweat!

4 months ago

Tough hike. Ok lake

4 months ago

Did this trail with my dog, starting at 8am. It took us about 3 hours to get to the lower lake, with a break for food. Didn't see any other hikers until about 30 minutes into the return trip. Total trip took about 4:40. There were patches of snow and ice, but nothing demanding microspikes. I would say this is probably a moderate hike for seasoned Colorado hikers, but it was a welcomed challenge for me, since I moved here from Florida (pretty much below sea level) six weeks ago. Most challenging part of the hike is the last mile...save some energy :)

hiking
4 months ago

Gorgeous fall day to do this hike. Virtually no snow anywhere on the trail. Some small patches of ice and mud but nothing major - did not need to use the microspikes at all during the hike. Made it to the upper lake where it was a bit windy, but great views both at the top and along the hike. It was 10 miles round trip, with many sections that are virtually flat or have little gain. Be prepared for about a mile of uphill at the very end of your hike. Outhouses have no TP this time of year, so bring your own ;)

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