Hike to Lower and Upper Chicago Lake

Chicago Lake Trailhead

Amazing views of Mount Evans Wilderness. You'll see moose, mountain goats, elk, and big horn sheep.

From the parking lot, stay to the right of Echo Lake and you will run into the Chicago Lakes Trailhead. Follow the switchbacks down and across Chicago Creek. After crossing the creek, follow the sign indicating that the trail follows the dirt road and hang a left; from here, you'll reach the Idaho Springs Reservoir is a little over 1.5 miles. Continue past the reservoir and past the cabins to reach the Mount Evans Wilderness Area Boundary, and shortly after you will pass through the reservoir fire area that burned more than 400 acres in 1978.

You'll reach Lower Chicago Lake in just 3.95 miles. To get to the Upper Chicago Lake, head back to the Chicago Lakes Trail and continue another mile. This is a popular breeding area for big horn sheep and mountain goats in the late spring and early summer, so keep an eye out for them on the valley walls.

The weather in the Mount Evans Wilderness can change rapidly; be prepared for high winds, snow, rain, hail, and intense sunlight. Make sure you get an early start to avoid storms (and the crowds).

Pack List

  • Hiking gear (backpack, first aid, compass, and map)
  • Boots
  • Water (or a water filter)
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • 10 Stop Filter (for long exposures during the day)
  • Shell jacket
  • Sunscreen
Show More
RT Distance 9.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 2390 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

The Climb Is SO Worth It.

10/10 would recommend this hike to anyone. Thought I was going to die but the view is so worth it. Went in December and the Lakes were totally frozen over which was magical. Definitely need yak tracks or spikes if you do it in winter as the trail is fairly icy!

Great Day Hike

This is a great day hike! Relatively close to Denver. Not too difficult, not too easy. Get a good, early start to avoid any potential bad weather. Make sure to bring water & a little snack. Really fun, great views at the top!

Great hike with lots of beautiful places to camp near both Lower and Upper Chicago Lakes. Upper Chicago Lake is above treeline, and can get very windy. There is tree cover just below Upper Chicago Lake with good views over Lower Chicago Lake. Great as a day hike, or relaxed overnight trip.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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