• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    4.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2000 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Wake up early, get there for sunrise, and be ready for one of the most stunning hikes near Denver.

Mount Evans is a simple, yet drop dead gorgeous 14er. That being said, no 14er is easy by any means. However as far as 14er's go, this is a cake walk. Coming in at a rating of class 2, there tends to be some scrambling but nothing a well balanced person can't handle.

To begin this adventure, we drove up to the Summit Lake parking lot at around 5am. There is a $5 fee for parking but that can be payed upon departure of the parking lot. Please do pay this fee, it goes directly to helping protect our beautiful landscapes.

Remember, Colorado and any mountainous region tends to get afternoon storms around 1-3 pm. It's crucial to get an early start and avoid these storms. And it doesn't hurt getting there before sunrise because, well, its a stunning rise. 

To begin the hike, you'll head from the Summit Lake parking lot towards a small building on the north end of the lake. From there follow the small footpath up the incline of Mt. Spalding. It's crucial that you head up the ridge of Mt. Spalding and not the trail that follows the base, that'll get you no where. 

From the top of Spalding (13,000 ft or so), you'll follow the ridge in a counter clockwise motion. Essentially your goal is to get to the opposite side of Summit Lake via the ridge. That'll be Mount Evans.

Once crossing the ridge you'll be hit hard with some stunning views of the lake, Mt. Bierstadt, and even Denver if it's a low atmosphere day. 

The trail will seem to disappear at points and the best way to counter the confusion is to follow the little rock piles that mark the trail. They'll be a little tough to see at first, however you'll soon catch on to their patterns.

After crossing the ridge directly facing the parking lot, you'll begin to traverse through a rock field, eventually ending up on the back side of Mount Evans. 

This next part is a little difficult depending on the weather. Follow the roughly made footpath through the boulder field and be prepared to occasionally scramble. Continue up the back side of Mount Evans until you reach a "better path" aka a path a bit more wide and established. To your right you should be able to see Mt. Bierstadt, truly a beautiful peak!

Once hitting the established path, continue up the face and feel the relief of hitting the summit. When we summited there was a little hidden elevation sign tucked away in some rocks next to the geographic marker.

Also, don't forget to take photos of the mountain goats!

After you've had time to take photos, eat some grub and drink a ridiculous amount of water, follow the path down to the road. From the road head to the old amphitheater that seems to always be infested with those burly mountain goats. 

The amphitheater parking will have a small trail on the north end of the lot. Follow this down the northeast face of Mount Evans. It can be a bit tricky due to loose rock, especially if it's rained within the pass few days. Take it slow and don't cause any rolled ankles! The best way to tell if you're on the right route is to simply look down the face and view Mount Evans road.

Once at the road, head back to the now entirely filled parking lot and go take a nap in your car. You've earned it! 

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Down Jacket
  • Rain Jacket
  • Wool Socks
  • Camera
  • SNACKS
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking Poles
  • Sunglasses
  • Shorts or pants, whatever you're in to
  • Positive Attitude
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Will McKay Storyteller

Environmentalist and Photographer. @wills_stills

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