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Chicago Lakes Trail

HARD 1148 reviews
#2 of 38 trails in

Chicago Lakes Trail is a 9.1 mile heavily 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: 9.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2,142 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

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
3 days ago

Hiked to the frozen lakes on Dec 6th. Fresh dusting of snow on the trail but still relatively easy to follow the trail from other hikers. Snowshoes are not necessary but micro spikes were extremely useful. The hike was beautiful and peaceful. Highly recommend it.

backpacking
icy
snow
25 days ago

The trail was mostly deserted yesterday. lots of ice; microspikes were the right choice! Camped at the (frozen) lakes. if you hike back about a mile, there are some spots with little wind.

hiking
icy
rocky
snow
26 days ago

icy
snow
1 month ago

what a lovely winter hike. Beautiful weather today. Definitely needed micro spikes. Be careful on the icy spots. It was absolutely beautiful all the way up to the upper Chicago lake. The last half mile was steep but the overall trail is pretty doable if you are an active person. Would definitely like to go back in Summer.

ohv trail good views

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

Great hike to Upper Chicago Lake. The entire trail is covered in snow/ice, so we used our microspikes. The trail starts in the woods and descends for 1 mile before you start climbing. We hiked mostly in the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen. We crossed a couple of streams and made a final push between Lower and Upper Chicago Lakes using poles. Had lunch on the beach until the wind picked up. Total hike was 10.1 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike in November after a few days of snow. The trail was snow packed. Because the snow was fresh, you step through 6-8 inches to get the Chicago’s Lake. Took some time to get there, but totally worth it. The lake was frozen and one could slide to the center of the lake and quietly lay down. Heading back down the trail was long and difficult towards the end. Expect to climb back up a mountain on your way back to your vehicle. I recommend going in the morning. It is quite peaceful. Long, long, hike. At the midpoint getting to the lake, there will be a stream. Watch where you step or you will fall straight through the ice. Happened to me!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Amazing hike! Definitely recommend at least poles if not crampons

hiking
1 month ago

Very slushy but so beautiful and fun. The elevation is varied, but not intense where it feels like you’re dying. I can’t wait to do this entire trail in warm weather. :). Busy at the front of the trail by the lake, traffic ceases after.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Hiked this on 10/20/19. We broke the trail in a fresh few inches of snow. It was very cold but not too windy so it was very comfortable. The snow made it tricky to navigate some of the rocks and also covered up some small streams which we didn’t see until we were walking in them. Made it just past the lower lake but ended up turning around due to being cold and having wet feet. My watch said it was about 9.4 miles round trip. Saw no one else on the trail until the very end. Would do again and hopefully will make it to the upper lake!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail. Around 10 miles round trip. Lots of shade and steady incline. U descend down initially which means the last part of the hike you have incline. Ugh! The last 0.5 miles over the ridge to the upper lake was brutal incline but weather was pretty. We couldn’t stay at the upper lake because once we reached the ridge the temps dropped by 30 degrees and was so windy. It is one I will do again. Gorgeous hike!

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked this with a friend and my golden retriever on 10/13/2019. It was probably one of my favorite trails! Something we didn’t realize was that if you continue to walk past Chicago lake you can go to summit lake. We had already gone as far as we wanted since we started up at echo lake, which makes the whole trail to Chicago lake about 10 miles there and back, we were ready to head back. It was very steep and rocky at first from echo lake but it is such a wonderful hike with a great variation in terrain we couldn’t have been happier with the decision. I would be a bit cautious if you try to do this right after it snows or rains, but it’s great and I would highly recommend !

hiking
2 months ago

First time ever hiking so I can’t compare to others but absolutely loved the hike and the distance. Left around 7:40am, plenty of parking found, got back to car 1:30pm, lots of stops and ate lunch at Chicago lakes. Highly recommend this trail. A wide variety of great views. Saw at least a dozen people on whole hike. 10/12/19

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Light snow in places, not icy at all yet. Most of the fall leaves have changed. Still an amazing hike.

hiking
2 months ago

A lot of the aspens have lost their leaves unfortunately! But the lakes are so blue and the vertical incline of the mountains is wicked. Such a perspective change from always seeing the lakes from above at summit lake. 9 miles and if you are acclimated I’d rate this as moderate!!

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Highest yield day-hike within an hour drive of Denver. While it is tempting to stop once you see the first Chicago Lake (not the reservoir), the views and reward for an extra .6 miles of hiking up to the second lake is well worth the effort. Fall colors are out and 80% of leaves have turned bright yellow/red as of 10/4/19. Bring at least a liter of water per person and some food to snack on along the way.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike yesterday. beautiful hike. good variation of views, foliage, hiking, etc... is especially nice now with fall colors. probably my new favorite hike. I don't think it was easy as some say. pretty good exercise for 9 miles. I felt it the next day. absolutely recommend this trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing hike this time of the year! Aspens are bright yellow and everything is so colorful. Easy hike for 9 miles and fairly gradual most of the way

recorded Recording - Sep 30, 05:19 PM

hiking
2 months ago

9/30/19 Chicago lakes is breathtaking beginning of fall. leaves were changing, pops of orange gold and yellow along the way. There is a steep dirt road road to walk up before Idaho Reservoir which is on the way. Pretty intense upward climb to get to the second Chicago Lake from the first but is doable and SO WORTH THE VIEW. best hike I've been on in history.

hiking
2 months ago

The colors are starting to change in the valley. The trail itself is fairly easy. Just be prepared for the hike up to summit lake. The wind was kind of crazy today. Was around 50 mph. We started at summit lake and hiked into the valley.

hiking
2 months ago

Wonderful 9 mile hike! Great views of aspens, lakes, and mountains! (Prime time for aspens there right now). A nice mix of flat, up, and down - not too hard! Trail wasn’t too crowded either, especially once we got 2+ miles out. Arrived to parking lot at 7:45 and got a spot no problem. Very crowded when we got back around noon.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Beautiful trail. Only made it out to the Idaho Springs reservoir and back. Aspens were gorgeous. It’s a steep decline to the reservoir, and so you have to climb back out but it’s worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful weekend; leaves were probably at peak color. I went all the way to Summit Lake, but enjoyed the route to the Chicago Lakes the most. An early start (7 am) and I ran into very few people on the way out. The portion of the trail between the reservoir and Echo Lake is heavily used later in the day.

hiking
2 months ago

great trail! didn't have a ton of time so 4 mile out and back, but still provided a ton of great views!

hiking
2 months ago

I did this hike the first week of August, beautiful day outside. Started early, around 715am. Trail was rocky in some parts, but over all pretty nice. I did slightly lose the trail around the first of Chicago lakes as I got distracted by the views! Did find my way back though. Beautiful hike

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