Mount Evans Wilderness Trails

Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452

Mount Evans Wilderness Trails

Mount Evans Wilderness Trails Professional Review and Guide

"The area’s 14,000-foot peaks and proximity to Denver combine with the summit road to draw large numbers of visitors. Nevertheless, the Mount Evans Wilderness contains notable biological features, harboring not only alpine tundra, but arctic tundra as well. This is one of the few places south of the Arctic Circle where such tundra is found. It differs from alpine tundra by virtue of its moisture, as it contains countless small pools of water. In contrast, most tundra in Colorado is dry and brittle once uncovered by snow.

The vast expanses of tundra offer visitors numerous opportunities to spy more common critters, including ptarmigan and yellow-bellied marmots. This trail guide includes descriptions of Chicago Lakes, Mount Bierstadt/Mount Evans, Abyss Lake, Beartrack Lakes, Hells Hole, Beaver Meadows/Beartrack Lakes Trail, Captain Mountain/Resthouse Meadows/Lost Creek, Guanella Pass to Threemile Creek, and Resthouse Meadows to Summit Lake."

Mount Evans Wilderness Trails Reviews

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This is a really cool trail. You start out in lush aspens and low lying bushes. We carried packs that weighed around 35 lbs. so it was not easy. We set out around 5:00 P.M. on Friday and hiked about two miles up before making camp near Deer Creek. The creek was cold enough to cool down our beers and there was ample fire wood. The first few miles of the trail is very rocky. Then you come to the pine forest where the trail smooths out. The overall incline is a little steep and some easy climbing is required in some places. Once the trail no longer follows the creek you move into switch backs for a couple of more miles. Then comes the hard part. The trail above the tree line is very steep and very rocky and you will have only scattered cover from the sun. Just when you think you see the top ledge you find your only half way up. I think this part of the trail should be rated very difficult. It may not be to hard with a day pack but its pretty tough with 35lbs. of gear. You could go with a much lighter pack but we like to have fun, eat well and drink at night when we camp. We also were carrying fishing gear and firearms. Once you reach the lakes, there are two, you find some very curious Marmots that seem to like attack your tent at night. They also stoled a pair of gloves from me. The lakes are loaded with trout. You will catch one about every two minutes with very little effort. There is very little fire wood and very little oxygen to burn what you find so bring a stove. At night you can see the city lights of Denver in the distance which usually I don't like but the way it showed over the edge of the big lake was pretty cool. The trip back down is very easy and fast once you get back below the timber line. There is no cover at the lakes and it's not some place you want to be during a thunder storm. Get below the timber line at the first sign of a storm because its a good ways down. If your at the lakes when the storm hits, you could be toast.
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I ran Beartracks Lake Trail yesterday and had a great experience overall. I planned to bike through most of the trail and then stash the bike and run/trek up Mt. Rosalie with a loop at high altitude. Of course, Beartracks is in the wilderness so I wasn’t able to bike more than about 5 miles total (we parked well in advance of the trailhead). The trail winds through beautiful terrain loaded with long vistas and huge rock out croppings. Elevation gain is substantial but only in mild increments and almost the entire trail is sheltered by the Evergreen forest. The first mile or so travels along the headwaters of Bear Creek before climbing through an old burn from a fire in the late nineties. The burn and re-growth provides great views across the Bear Creek Canyon. Later, the trail gradually climbs through the woods and slides through some rocks before coming to Beartrack Lakes. We headed South just before the lake to gain some more elevation and make it to tree-line before we had to turn back for time considerations. Heading South from Beartrack Lakes is the Roosevelt Lakes trail. There was little evidence of recent use and several areas where fallen trees made route finding a little challenging but for the most part the trail is well marked with cairns. We hit tree line at 11,600 two minutes after the time one of the group had designated as the required turn around point so we didn’t actually see Roosevelt lakes but the emergence from the dense forest to the high alpine environment was rewarding! The run back down was fast and furious and through it all we only saw one other hiking party of two people. This is a fun and easy trail very close to Evergreen and suitable for hikers of all ages. It is important to know that a state Wildlife Stamp is required for all vehicles and NONE are sold at the parking lots. The nearest public facilities are 13 miles south in Evergreen…
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Hiked the chicago lakes. Backpacked in. Area was busy and for those who like solitude this isn't the hike for you. Was like a circus at the trailhead and ran into folks all along the route. The lakes are aptly named as the wind appeared ever present along with adverse weather conditions. Got a lot of rain and due to the high use the search for firewood proved very difficult (but not impossible) a sven saw is very useful in this type situation. Fishing was fair with the small amount of time on the lake due to the weather and the hordes of people. Some good views and a good hike but due to the proximity to Denver you may feel like you are hiking around Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Mount Evans Wilderness Trails Photos

Trail Information

Idaho Springs
Nearby City
Several options
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Best Spring through Fall
8,400 feet
Trailhead Elevation
14,264 feet
Top Elevation
Arapaho National Forest, Pike National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Georgetown, Harris Park, Idaho Springs, Mount Evans, Mount Logan, Shawnee
Local Maps