Hike Chief Mountain, CO

4 miles 1100 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Matthew Eaton

This easy hike is great for early season training, catching the sunrise or sunset, or taking visitors who want to experience the feeling of standing on a mountain without biting off the larger peaks of the state.

Sitting at 11,709’, Chief Mountain is not one of Colorado’s highest peaks, but the views from this mountain are spectacular nonetheless and rival the views of any 14er I’ve climbed. This mountain sits along Squaw Pass Road so you get the luxury of a high trailhead for this peak.

To get there, follow Squaw Pass Road (Colorado 103) which you’ll find along Evergreen Parkway. If you are coming from I70, you’ll turn right onto this road. Follow the road for about 12 miles. Once you pass the turn-in for Echo Mountain Ski Area, you’ll see a small pullout on the right side of the road, this is the parking area. Cross the road and find the trail marker for Chief Mountain and climb into the forest.

You’ll climb a little over 1,000ft as you switchback through the forest on this hike of about 4 miles round trip. As you make your way above the trees you may lose the now rocky and class 2 trail, but don’t fear, you can see the summit from there. Set your sights for the top and head that direction.

Once on the summit, you’ll have spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park to the north, Gray’s and Torrey’s peaks (both above 14,000 ft) to the west, the Mount Evans Massif immediately to the southwest, Pikes Peak to the South and Denver and the foothills to the east. Truly a fantastic 360 degree view!

This hike can be completed any time of year. If you go in the winter, be sure to bring snowshoes or microspikes and expect to find solitude on this trail. If you go in the summer, crowds will be larger, but the trail may be easier to find. Just be sure to start early and plan to be below tree line before the afternoon thunderstorms begin.

If you are looking for a longer hike, you can see the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout immediately to the east of Chief Mountain and with a little research and planning, these could be combined into a longer day. 

Read More


Dog Friendly


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Perfect sunrise hike!

This was a perfect hike to do on a weekend morning in winter! The dog and I had the trail to ourselves the whole way up and down. Trailhead is tricky to find when there is a lot of snow, but just trust the directions provided! Park at the pullout right at the top of Echo Mountain ski resort! There will be a well-defined tracked out trailhead with a wooden post marking the trail. Incredible views up top! I would recommend a pair of crampons for your hiking shoes/boots (I used a cheap pair of yaktrax on my boots) when there is snow on the ground. They were a lifesaver!

Hiking To Chief Mountain

I will start out by saying that the drive up there is beautiful! Semi long but so gorgeous. It is a little tricky to start, because the trail head is literally on the side of the road. Hard to find, so drive slow and look to your left and you'll find it! If you're by eco ski and snowboarding area you're on the right track. The hike to the top is incredible. It's 110% worth it. Can be VERY windy, so dress warm (even if it's hot) up at around 11,000 ft, temp changes dramatically. Take the hike, it's totally worth it!

Stay Nearby

Evergreen, Colorado

Echo Lake

Overview Echo Lake Campground is located on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in central Colorado near its namesake lake at the base of Mount Evans along Hwy 103. Visitors enjoy hiking, fi...

Idaho Springs, Colorado

West Chicago Creek

Overview West Chicago Creek Campground sits along its namesake creek at the base of Mount Evans and is located off Highway 103 on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in central Colorado. It ...

Central City, Colorado

Denver West / Central City KOA

Black Hawk, Colorado

Cold Springs

Overview Cold Springs Campground is located on the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest, north of Blackhawk on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway/Highway 119, in north central Colorado. Visitors enjoy the ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Snowshoe to Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout

    Come check out the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout, a historic spot located in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area of Colorado, and one of the highest lookout towers in the country, at an elevation of 11,486 ft. Just a short drive from the Front Range cor...

    4.75 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Hike the Resthouse/Lincoln Lake Trail

    While the Mt. Evans Wilderness never has a shortage of visitors, thanks to its proximity to Denver, it is possible to find a more private hike if you know where to look. Lincoln Lake Trail, accessible from Echo Lake year-round, is not as glamorous...

  • Photograph Ancient Bristlecone Pines on Mt. Goliath

    On the way to the summit of Mt. Evans sits a small 160 acre preserve of some of the world's oldest living trees. The Mount Goliath Natural Area protects a rare site of Bristlecone Pines that make excellent photographic subjects.Immediately after p...

  • Hike to Idaho Springs Reservoir

    This is a great hiking area an hour outside of Denver, Colorado. It's still easily accessible in the winter and most of the time it can be hiked without snowshoes. Starting at the Echo Lake parking lot, hike around the right side of the lake until...

    3.9 miles 800 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 

    Learn More