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An epic day covering all four of Chicago Basin's challenging 14ers.


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Map Key

28.9

Miles

46.5

KM

63%

Runnable

13,935' 4,247 m

High

8,198' 2,499 m

Low

12,167' 3,708 m

Up

12,167' 3,708 m

Down

16%

Avg Grade (9°)

68%

Max Grade (34°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

This run must be accessed via the Chicago Basin Trail, which is in turn accessed either by train (summer only) or by a long run in (Animas River Trail).

While portions of this run can easily be explored by fit dogs, the peaks above it are generally too technical for them.

Camping high in the basin is generally frowned upon. See Twin Lakes Approach for further information; camping along the end of Chicago Basin Trail is preferred.

Overview

This truly epic run summits all four Chicago Basin 14ers in one fell swoop. While seemingly short and with surprisingly little vertical, runners should know that all of these peaks are at least somewhat technical, and this day is sure to exhaust everyone short of Ueli Steck. Starting at camp, it takes runners up the Twin Lakes Approach, up Sunlight and Windom, back down and over to the Eolus Group, and finally back down Twin Lakes Approach. Between 14er finishers, completing all these mountains in one day is a big deal, and offers some pretty awesome bragging rights.

Need to Know

The route GPX starts at Needleton, and you'll need to take the train in in order to start from here. Book your tickets in advance!

While similar in distance and elevation gain to many Sawatch 14ers or to 14er quadruple DeCaliBron, this run is a whole other beast.

Runner Notes

This is a mixed bag of terrain, better for hiking fast than for truly running. Twin Lakes Approach is absurdly steep and in some parts rocky, but largely runnable. Sunlight and Windom are rocky and technical, and basically impossible to run. The Eolus Group's lower trail is very runnable, for about 2 miles, before reaching the more technical upper portions. Overall, this isn't a bad trip for a runner who's open to some technical scrambling and slower hiking for much of the journey.

Description

This is a heck of a trip.

From camp off the Chicago Basin Trail:

Run up Twin Lakes Approach. From here, it's recommended you summit Sunlight and Windom first, as the rock on Sunlight is slightly more technical and prone to getting slippery. It's easier to escape from the Eolus Group should the weather change later in the day.

So, run Sunlight and Windom. Come back down to the Twin Lakes and run the Eolus Group. From here, all that's left is a descent back down Twin Lakes Approach.

****
If you don't want to take the train and want an epic multi-day backpacking experience, start from Purgatory. Starting from Purgatory means you don't need to worry about a train ticket, plus you get some extra mileage out of the deal. For this route, consider at least two nights; run in and camp the first day, summit all four 14ers on the next day, and run out the following day. Add in an extra day if you want to enjoy the basin a bit more!

Flora & Fauna

From world class alpine views and vegetation to unique alpine critters, Chicago Basin's got it all. Wildflowers down low are stunning. Marmots and pika are everywhere, and mountain goats love it up high, especially near Twin Lakes.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tyler Prince with improvements by Ashley Peterson

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 11 votes

#578

Overall
  4.9 from 11 votes
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#119

in Colorado

#578

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Photos

Looking up at the Chicago Basin.
Feb 25, 2024 near Silverton, CO
Birds's eye view nearing the Sunlight summit.
Feb 25, 2024 near Silverton, CO
Sunrise from Windom Peak.
May 3, 2017 near Silverton, CO
Sunlight Spire and Windom Peak from Sunlight Peak. The last day of good weather.
Aug 3, 2018 near Silverton, CO
A view from above.
Apr 22, 2015 near Silverton, CO
Chicago Basin ~ San Juan Mountains, CO
Apr 22, 2015 near Silverton, CO
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Check-Ins

Jul 25, 2020
Nancy Stanley
Dec 14, 2015
Zach Roth
Along Animas - up to chicago basin - summit 14ers and back! 38mi
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