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Chicago Lakes Trail #52

Difficult
 4.6 (41)

A beautiful high-altitude run with lakes, flowers, and wildlife.


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Map Key

6.1

Miles

9.8

KM

80%

Runnable

12,864' 3,921 m

High

10,343' 3,153 m

Low

2,692' 820 m

Up

520' 158 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

89%

Max Grade (42°)

Dogs Leashed

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

The south half of this trail is in the Mount Evans Wilderness. Wilderness rules apply. Dogs must be on a hand-held leash. No motorized equipment or mechanized transportation. No bikes.

Camps, campfires and stock, where allowed, at least 100 feet from water and trails. Group size limited to 15 people and/or 10 pack/stock animals per party. Certified weed-free hay is required for stock.

Runner Notes

Rocks and roots abound on this trail with obstacles often exceeding 8".

Description

Directions:
I-70 westbound, Idaho Springs exit #240 - Hwy 103. Go south for approx. 12 mile to the junction of Hwy 103 and 5, the trail starts behind the Echo Lake Lodge. There are several social trails in the area, simply choose the one that heads southwest. This trail can also be easily accessed by the Denver Mountain Parks picnic area and scenic path around Echo Lake.

Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile to Chicago Creek. The first mile can be somewhat steep in spots, with a lot of large rocks. After crossing the wooden bridge at the creek, head straight to a dirt road and take a left to head uphill. This will be the easy part of the run for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. This first part of trail often tends to be the busiest, as many casual runners or families will hang out at the creek for a while and then head back to the trailhead.

Just up the road Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Continue on the road past the reservoir and you'll come to an area with a few cabins and "Private Property" signs. Don't let the signs deter you, you're on the right track! Continue past the cabins on the road and you'll soon see an information sign off to the right with the trail heading further back.

This next part of the trail goes through an old burn area where, in 1978, 400 acres burned in the Reservoir Fire. Abundant wildflowers stand out against the burned trees.

Darting back into the trees, the first Chicago Lake sits at treeline. The trail to the second lake, above treeline, is difficult to follow at times and is very steep. Both lakes offer excellent views of surrounding peaks. The upper lake is a great place to rest and have lunch. After refueling, you can continue the trail up the southern ridge to Summit Lake to properly finish the Chicago Lakes Trail. A lot of people are satisfied with making the upper lake their turn-around spot, as the last section of the trail up the ridge is very steep and technical.

After reaching Summit Lake, you have the option to turn around and finish the round-trip run, or continue the last 1000'+ elevation to summit Mt. Evans.

Flora & Fauna

After passing Idaho Springs Reservoir and the cabins, you'll find many wildflowers along the trail to the Chicago Lakes in the burn area.

Contacts

Shared By:

Aaron Stoneberger with improvements by Ralph Bradt

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 41 votes

#28

Overall
  4.6 from 41 votes
5 Star
66%
4 Star
32%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#9

in Colorado

#28

Overall
485 Views Last Month
16,974 Since Aug 2, 2015
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Photos

Beautiful overlook of both Chicago Lakes and Idaho Springs Reservoir in the distance.
Aug 2, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Looking back towards the basin
Apr 5, 2018 near Georgetown, CO
Waterfall between Chicago Lakes.
Aug 2, 2015 near Georgetown, CO
Crossing the creek is made much easier by this convenient bridge.
Jun 28, 2017 near Georgetown, CO
The weather holds as we head out along the Chicago Lakes Trail #52.
Jun 28, 2017 near Georgetown, CO
First Chicago Lake coming up on the left. Snow was hard packed enough going early morning and only a couple icy spots (in early January)
Jan 8, 2018 near Georgetown, CO

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Check-Ins

Jul 25, 2020
Chris Parks
Jun 9, 2020
Ben F
Nice trail, great views — 1h 55m
May 17, 2020
A W
Went to Chicago Lake and not all the way to Summit; trail was very crowded on hike down. 10mi — 5h 00m
Oct 13, 2019
Matt Matt
Trail in great condition up to the first Chicago lake 4mi
Jul 28, 2019
Annie Ochs
5mi
Jul 21, 2019
Forthright
Really pretty hike that has both a good mix of steep sections and mellow rolling stuff. 10mi
Jul 22, 2018
Ben Nissley
9.7mi
Jul 19, 2018
Trudi Schoening
2mi