Hike to Lower and Upper Chicago Lake

Colorado Chicago Lake Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    9.8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2390 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

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
Read More

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

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!

about 2 months ago
about 2 months ago

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.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

The trail can be extremely muddy and boggy during the spring, with the last push up to the upper lake covered in ice and snow. The trail is usually pretty doable by Independence Day

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Mountain Bike the Notch Trail

Colorado / Notch Trailhead

The trail is shared by mountain bikers and ATV users. The Notch Trail is located in the San Juan National Forest.  Photos: William Snow, Davey Nin, and Kent Kanouse

6 Saves

Hike the Hidden Valley Loop

Colorado / Hidden Valley Loop Trails

The trail is shared by mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners. The Hidden Valley Loop offers amazing views of the Animas Valley, especially when the foliage changes in the fall.

12 Saves

Hike the Jones and Dutch Creek Loop

Colorado / Jones Creek and Dutch Creek Trail

The trail is well maintained and is dog friendly. Bring extra water if using this trail in July or August.  Photos: Chris M Morris and Daniel Weber 

14 Saves