Chicago Lakes Trail

Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

Elevation Gain2,974ft
Trailhead Elevation10,648ft
Elevation Min/Max10648/12871ft
Elevation Start/End10648/10648ft

Chicago Lakes Trail

Chicago Lakes Trail is a hiking trail in Clear Creek County, Colorado. It is within Arapaho National Forest and Mount Evans Wilderness Area. It is 4.4 miles long and begins at 10,648 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,974 feet. The trail ends near the Chicago Lakes Lookout viewpoint. This trail connects with the following: Spalding Tr.

Chicago Lakes Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"The downside of the Chicago Lakes hike is that in includes a mile of monotonous road walking followed by another mile through the scorched remains of an old forest fire. Fortunately, the fire stopped short of the lakes themselves, and it is the last mile of the trail that really makes the hike worthwhile. The Chicago Lakes are extraordinarily scenic. The first lake is tucked away in the back of a steep glacial valley with thousand-foot granite cliffs plunging down to its eastern shore. The second lake rests 400 yards further south above a 300-foot wall of broken cliffs and steep grassy slopes. In my opinion this hike is not worthwhile unless you plan to go all the way to the upper lake. The lower lake is very attractive, but its scenic rewards are just not sufficient to justify two hours of walking on a road and through a burned area. The rugged beauty of the upper lake and the awesome view looking down onto the lower lake from above are the real prizes of the hike. The lakes are especially pretty in late morning, before the wind picks up but after the sun is high enough to clear the surrounding cliffs." Read more
Best Hikes with Kids Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Maureen Keilty
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"Hikers of all sizes and interests enjoy the Chicago Lakes Trail as it descends gently to Echo Lake and Idaho Springs Reservoir. Many hikers fish and picnic at the lakes, allowing plenty of time to investigate the shorelines’ aquatic world." Read more

Chicago Lakes Trail Reviews

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A fabulous trail, complete with gorgeous lakes, incredible wildflowers, wildlife and mountains. We started early in the morning on a pretty Sunday to avoid heat and crowds. The views are simply amazing all the way up. We pushed on to the final lake and the short steep hike to upper Chicago Lake is a butt kicker but so worth it!
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I agree with the previous reviewer. This is a very rewarding hike that I'd highly recommend to anyone who's looking for an easy to moderate hike with million-dollar views, especially at the lakes. If you want to make it even more fun (and a lot longer and more demanding) then continue up the West Ridge to Summit Lake.
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I really enjoyed this trail. The guide puts a little of a negative spin on it. It was scenic and if you keep going you can hike all the way to the top of Mt.Evans. Going all the way to the top would be more than a one day hike. It is difficult because it is long with a pretty significant elevation gain.

Chicago Lakes Trail Photos

Trail Information

Arapaho National Forest
Nearby City
Mount Evans Wilderness Area
For current conditions and more information, contact the Clear Creek Ranger Distirct, or (303) 567-3000
Local Contacts
USGS Idaho Springs
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018