Chinns Lake

OutAndBack • 7.4 mi • 1580 ft

Though conveniently close to Denver, this tour in the shadow of the Continental Divide is typically uncrowded. The trailhead to Chinns Lake lies within one hour of Denver, but the route is usually uncrowded. The last 1.5 miles are quite steep and will require good snow conditions in order to be enjoyable. The snowy peaks of the Continental Divide are west and behind the lake. Prevailing westerly winds off the Divide regularly dump snow into these cirques on the east side, so conditions are often fair to good in early season. The Continental Divide Trail crosses your path at about the half way point of your tour.
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Activity Type: Cross-Country Skiing
Nearby City: Idaho Springs
Length: 7.4 total miles
Elevation Gain: 1,580 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: More Difficult; Avalanche Danger: Moderate
Duration: 130 minutes up, 50 minutes down
Season: Mid-November to late March
Trailhead Elevation: 9,560 feet
Top Elevation: 11,040 feet
Other Uses: Good for: dogs
Local Contacts: Arapaho National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Empire
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Recent Trail Reviews


We went to the trail today and also saw lots of no trespassing/ no parking signs. There was also a notice that the first 3 miles of the side road were private property and the road was the only public access. the snow was too deep to try to drive too far down the road. Parking at the top of the Glaicer is $5 now and there are no parking signs everywhere in the area. We didn't try parking a 1/4 mile down Fall River road and ended up going somewhere else. I'm sure it's an excellent hike if parking can work out down the road.


I didn't get to the trail. I found Rainbow Rd. When I came to a fork I went right (to cross the river) as the directions indicate but there were no trespassing signs. I was confused so didn't go any further. Maybe I should have gone to the left instead?

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