From here, the trail switchbacks steeply downhill to a stream crossing. WTA Pro Tip: At 1.75 miles, where the trail begins to switchback upwards, a spur trail offers a brief side trip up the valley to an overlook of Source Lake, the headwaters of the Snoqualmie River’s south fork. Chicago’s newest park is an excellent place to escape the noise of the city and … A last word of advice: No matter where you decide to snowshoe, don’t forget the hot chocolate. Rather than regret not bringing them, I strapped them to my pack just in case. Admittedly, I donât much relish in the making of set-in-stone plans.Â Usually, my ideal plans are something along the lines of: I am going to go hiking tomorrow, I plan on going to one of four places that I have been eyeing (unless, of course, when looking over the map right before walking out the door else strikes my fancy), I will get to the trailhead somewhere around the time of sunrise, or perhaps, Iâll wake up and the weather will be shitty and Iâll decide to go tomorrow instead. There are several great camping spots along the trail, in particular to the southwest of the first Chicago Lake. You can also head to the summit of Mount Evans from Chicago Lakes. Located at the base of Mt. Evans Road, Echo Lake sits next to Squaw Pass Road, providing a great jumping-off point for numerous adventures. The Chicago Lakes trail branches off at the southwest corner of the lake and is a good option for those seeking a longer trip. The trail winds through the woods for a few hundred yards, passing two more boulders in the meadow on the right (The Willows Boulders). Since the bottoms will ice first, the lid won’t freeze shut. I would have to locate the trail from here on. The routes are clearly marked and well-traveled, so it’s easy to stay on trail. The trail will diverge away from Echo Lake and will traverse along a scenic valley with mountain views off in the distance. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. Snowshoeing the Chicago Lakes Trail in the winter provides a greater sense of solitude. We tried to avoid the willows by dropping down through the burn area to gain the Chicago Lakes Trail just south of the Idaho Springs reservoir. Complete freedom. Tours are free but rentals run $10; hot drinks and small snacks are provided. The problem is, … In places, the Chicago Lakes trail follows a ledge where drop-offs are steep and, depending on snow conditions, footing can be awkward for beginners. See chapter "26. Getting out of my car at Echo Lake, the wind was a bit calmer (meaning not bad enough to warrant me heading home). Glissading Down Snowbanks I doubted if my snowshoes would be warranted. We were okay with that. Enter your email address receive notifications of new posts by email: Your email address will not be published. There’s no telling when things won’t go according to plan. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State. Yet the sun beams gloriously many a cloudless day in midwinter, casting long lance shadows athwart the dazzling expanse.” The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing. I love the solitude; the cold, high-mountain winter air and the reward of blazing new trail that I know others will follow. Actually, no one (other than myself) knows how famous for this I am â because the only time I can get away with this sort of spontaneity is when Iâm alone.Â And, often, when it comes to outdoor adventure, I am alone. Evans Wilderness, CO I had to be somewhat close to the lower lake, but the clouds were getting more serious-looking, so for the second time on this trail I decided to raise my white flag and head back. I hope youâre all, A throwback to #SarahtheFox on a snowy morning bec, Winter setting the mood on Lake Granby and the Ind, Cold mornings and steamy breath. We’d heard the trail was socked in by snow, so it would have to wait for another day. Though it’s all uphill, it’s pretty tough to get lost on a wide road, and you don’t need to go far for sweeping views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.Just north of Ward off Colorado 119, the Red Rock Lake trailhead at Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a great starting point for full-moon snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. All content and images Â© Erica Ruch 1993-Infinity | Site by, Merry Christmas Eve, friends. Evan’s Wilderness. There were a bunch of people snowshoeing on this section of the trail (though snowshoes were definitely not needed, and were likely more effort than they were worth). The overlook platform is half a mile round trip along a wheelchair friendly path. This section is the only downside to this trail: starting out with such a steep downhill means you end with a steep uphill. The trail switchbacks about 400 feet down through wooded hillside to a log bridge across Chicago Creek. Length 4.9 miElevation gain 1948 ftRoute type Out & back Yes, the trails around Bear Lake are always fantastic, and the snowshoe trails to Dream and Emerald lakes are enjoyable and beautiful. Hop aboard Ballhooter Lift for a scenic ride to Snowshoe's best kept secret, Shaver's Lake. For more information call (800) 228-1876. If you’re not comfortable bringing the family into the backcountry after dark, relax in the familiar territory of a ski resort; many host group snowshoe and cross-country ski tours. 10 Snowshoe Drive Snowshoe, WV 26209 ©2020 Snowshoe Mountain Resort Call ahead to confirm group tours. White, who has … The second lake is above treeline. Alpine lakes and stunning vista are not always locked away in the back country. www.crestedbuttesports.com, Crystal Ski Shop, 3216 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder (303) 449-7669 From Echo Lake Park lot, follow the well-marked signs towards Chicago Lakes. More of a casual meeting than an official tour, the trip is intermediate and climbs to a miners hut near the ghost town of Ironton. Summit Lake Park provides easy access to the popular Summit Lake and Chicago Lakes Overlook. Montrose: Colorado’s Gateway to the Southwest, Olympic Training Center: Going for the Gold in Colorado Springs, Chautauqua Park: Boulder’s Historic Landmark and Hangout, Elitch Gardens: Holding a Lofty Place in Denver History, Gold Digger: Inside the Phoenix Gold Mine, Rockhounding In Colorado: Where To Find Geodes, Galloping Goose Lift Winter Park: Save A Few Bucks And Ski Cheap, Forney Museum: Denver’s Transportation Hall of Fame, Denver’s Downtown Aquarium: Up Close and Personal, A Mile High: What You Can Do at 5,280 Feet in Denver. Paradise Valley Snowshoe Loop 2.8 … Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. 280 Capitol Reef St, After refueling, you can continue the trail up the southern ridge to Summit Lake to properly finish the Chicago Lakes Trail. Reflection Lakes and Inspiration Point: 7 miles, 670 feet net elevation gain. The ranch doesn’t offer guided nighttime tours, but groomed trails of all levels are open for full-moon fun. Even if a short trip is the plan, bring an extra hat, socks, gloves, water and food. There is nice dispersed camping at the lakes. And, there aren’t a few people — there’s no one. I love the sound of nothing but aluminum crampons crunching over a packed trail, and, even better, the thumping of 25-inch tails on fresh powder. Camping At the entrance to the Wilderness Area there is a sign that camping is permitted as long as you stay 100ft (or 100 yards, not sure) from any water source. The howling wind was back with a vengeance.Â Last year I experienced the same relentless winds when I hit this spot on the trail â fierce cold wind driving across the frozen lake. Rent any needed equipment ahead of time. âï¸ #whitetail, #tbt because this time of year, when everything is, If my life hadnât become a series of unfortunate, The fire burned 100 acres a minute - and she outfo, The healing from the #easttroublesomefire just bar, Roadtrip to the JMT Part 1: The Trail Through Time. While the views from there are spectacular, Summit Lake itself is a wonderful example of the alpine environment. Â Sure enough, rounding up Squaw Pass, the wind raced with such force that my car wavered along the road. Yeah, we know, the lake itself isn't really a secret. Two very different places and directions. Crossing the bridge and reaching the bottom of the steep climb back up to Echo Lake, I knew I needed some fuel in my system to push myself up the last switchbacks. When in doubt, turn left (or if itâs between the Sierras and somewhere elseâ¦always pick the Sierras). To the east was a large waterfall with grand, sweeping views of Lower Chicago Lake. Directions: The trail to the Chicago Lakes starts at the Echo Lake picnic area. 3) for more information. Don’t snowshoe alone at night. Staggeringly steep mountains seem even larger when they’re backlit by the glow of a heavy moon. It has a reputation as being excellent for rainbow trout fishing. Really, this is a big reason when it comes to hiking and backpacking that I choose to venture out solo. Trail Snapshot: Chicago Lakes Hike Near Idaho Springs, Colorado Maybe I should have turned right afterall? Lots of people know it's where we get the water to make all that white fluffy stuff each winter. A partially full moon can be enough to light the trail on a clear night, but a few winter clouds can change everything. www.crystalskishop.com, Maison De Ski, 2804 Colorado Blvd., Idaho Springs (800) 228-8915 www.skiwp.com/skishop.html. Leaving Echo Lake, Chicago Lakes Trail travels downhill for the first mile, here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Iâm guessing that this is quite common for this area in the winter â the Chicago Lakes Basin acting as a tunnel for the winds coming off of Mt Evans. Trailhead: Echo Lake Lodge Activities: Hiking, Camping, Skiing, Snowshoeing Closest City / Town: Idaho Springs, Colorado Driving Directions: From I-70, head west towards Idaho Springs. You’ll pass three more mountain lakes as you punch up into the high country of Colorado’s Mt. I love snowshoeing. In places, the Chicago Lakes trail follows a ledge where drop-offs are steep and, depending on snow conditions, footing can be awkward for beginners. Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management has closed portions of the Lake Front Trail from Oak Street to Ohio Street. See Access and Trail Information for train and trail access, trail statistics, etc. This is also a wonderful summer trail that’s just an hour drive from Denver. Visit www.cbnordic.org or call (970) 349-1707 (ext. South Chicago Creek is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idaho Springs, Colorado that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Season of Use Chicago Basin is situated at 11,200′ elevation (timberline is 11,800′), and is snow-free from late June to mid September most years. Echo Lake" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Colorado's Quiet Winter Trails. Located at 10,600 feet, Echo Lake is a small, shallow natural lake formed when glacial fill dammed drainage in the area. That is the true beauty of Snow Lake--how readily it shares the splendor of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Heavily-trafficked beginner trails curl around Echo Lake, 14 miles south of Idaho Springs on Colorado 103. Echo Lake and Chicago Lakes Trails" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Snowshoe Routes -- Colorado's Front Range. Both lakes offer excellent views of surrounding peaks. This out-and-back trail is 9.5 miles round trip, and is one of the most popular snowshoe trails in the area — so be ready to meet other trekkers! The basic trip is between 2-3 miles on beginner terrain and heads out to a tepee where guides serve hot drinks and snacks. Change of plans. Sure enough, I climbed a steep hill to a clearing with a beautiful view of Mt Spalding and the trail disappeared, the snow got very deep, and I started to get too cold to care much about fighting my way up to the lakes without the comfort of a trail. Groups split according to pace and experience, but the tours last about an hour. The hike to Chicago Lakes is a great hike near Denver, taking you to pretty mountain lakes and into the high country of Mt. W: www.gocolorado.com. Getting back to my car the wind was brutal â flinging my car doors around, and seeping in through my âwindproofâ clothing. Watch the weather and add a flashlight to your pack. The trail rolls through some forest for a bit before opening up to a beautiful view of Mt Evans, Mt Spalding, and the Chicago Lakes basin. I went left. Full-moon snowshoeing brings together all the elements of a backcountry day trip and multiplies them exponentially. Kalama River Trail: 8 miles, 500 feet net elevation gain. From Evergreen, take Squaw Pass Road to Echo Lake. The snowshoe-only trail is a basic, rolling route that winds through the forest and intersects with cross-country trails and Brainard Lake Road. I walked across frozen Echo Lake towards the Chicago Lakes trailhead, and was surprised to find the snow deeper than I expected and needed to stop and put on my snowshoes. My backpacking trip along the Tuolumne River in Yosemite was a classic example of this: I was in my car, backpacking gear in my backseat, sitting at the stoplight before the freeway onramp and I had to decide if I was going to head left and go backpacking in Yosemite, or right and head to Zion. Berthoud, CO 80513 Dogs are also able to use this trail. Please subscribe to our mailing list for the latest new posts. P: 970-568-6343 The Chicago Lakes Trailhead has an elevation of 10,600 while it's destination has an elevation of 11,800. The trail undulates ruggedly on a fast descent through healthy spruce and fir to Chicago Creek (1.1 miles : 10,342'). Extra staff is usually available to take faster groups on longer routes, and the center is even willing to organize a custom tour. Most of the birds have gone down below the snow-line, the plants sleep, and all the fly-wings are folded. In the distance, the Chicago Lakes Trail snaked up steep rocky terrain towards Summit Lake, which rests at 13,002 feet. For more information, call (970) 923-5700.Ten minutes from Winter Park, Devil’s Thumb Ranch hosts a full-moon ski, skate and snowshoe night. The main Chicago Lakes Trail continues to the right, passing a small stand of aspens. I decided on the way home that I give up on Chicago Lakes Basin as a winter hike, and Iâll save it for the warmer, greener days of summer where the trail is obvious and the wind is surely not as fierce. I couldnât have jumped in my car any quicker to get out of it. Water will freeze faster, cloud cover can make the trail hard to follow and it’s likely that no one will be around in case of an accident. Follow the trail through the meadow, across two make-shift bridges, then into the woods on the opposite side of the meadow. The resorts usually offer rentals, but local ski shops are often cheaper. The trail to the second lake, above treeline, is difficult to follow at times and is very steep. Maybe thatâs the golden rule. Popular daytime destinations are a good nighttime option, as the trails are usually packed down and obvious. I had every intention of turning right at the bottom of my street, but instead, I pulled a sudden left from the right-hand lane. Check open/close hours before exploring at night. Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. If you decide to continue, remember the 400 feet of elevation gain on the return trip. Traveled:Â Traveled: Chicago Lakes Trail (6,234′), “Hushed now is the life that so late was beating warmly. Evan’s Wilderness. The path here is narrowly cut into a steep cliff face, and as I expected, the snow was scarce, and I swapped out my snowshoes for microspikes. The weather had been beautiful at our house at 8500â, but I know well that weather nearer to the Continental Divide and the high country is usually much different. Here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Another option from Echo Lake is to snowshoe straight up the closed-for-winter Mount Evans Road. Some shops offer discounts for advance reservations. Learn how your comment data is processed. A short climb past a second Chicago Lakes Trail sign crests over a deep gorge carved by Chicago Creek with views of Mt Spalding and Mount Evans in the distance. Just as nighttime snowshoeing enhances the beauty of the backcountry, it also enhances the dangers. The trail rolls through some forest for a bit before opening up to a beautiful view of Mt Evans, Mt Spalding, and the Chicago Lakes basin. I had decided I would give the 9 mile hike to Chicago Lakes another try (I had attempted it last winter, but the weather had other plans), but if the wind was this fierce at the trailhead Iâd be happier turning around. Iâm famous for maneuvers like this. To keep water from freezing on longer trips, add powdered sports drink and store bottles upside down. www.maisondeski.com, Ouray Mountain Sports, 732 Main St., Ouray (970) 325-4284 It's 4.5 miles to the upper lake from the trailhead. Mineral Spring Gulch. DMP trails map. I decide at the last second to turn left instead of right, to keep going, or turn around. I trudged along where I remember the trail being, and as I headed across the Mt Evans Wilderness boundary the trail became a bit easier to find (though I was still largely going on memory). The Chicago Lakes hike begins at Echo Lake. Snowshoe Trail, Waterton Lakes National Park: Address, Snowshoe Trail Reviews: 4.5/5 I can't say I have ever had to balance on downed trees wearing snowshoes, and it is quite the awkward experience. It is here that the both Chicago Lakes Trail and Lincoln Lakes Trail begin. Donât get me wrong, I love the company of good friends on a backpacking trip or jaunting up a mountain, but I often love the freedom and flexibility of being (largely) in charge of my own fate even more. All Rights Reserved. Mount Rainier National Park . Description: The Chicago Lakes Trail is a great hiking opportunity and location in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Get off on Highway […] Though open space and county parks are great for close-to-home day trips, most have curfews. The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers guided full-moon ski and snowshoe tours for $15. It wasn’t until I started snowshoeing that I felt I had really experienced a Colorado winter. From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. I walked across frozen Echo Lake towards the Chicago Lakes trailhead, and was surprised to find the snow deeper than I expected and needed to stop and put on my snowshoes. Mt. Northerly Island. www.ouraysports.com, Viking Ski Shop, 78966 Highway 40 (at the intersection with Vasquez Road ) Winter Park, (970)281-7220 Small creeks, just barely running past white-capped boulders, gurgle louder. The most recent is titled, “50 of the Best Snowshoe Trails Around Lake Tahoe,” and published by University of Nevada Press. The path here is narrowly cut into a steep cliff face, and as I expected, the snow was scarce, and I swapped out my snowshoes … At about 1½ miles, this is a good nighttime turnaround point. Nisqually Vista Snowshoe Trail: 1 mile, 200 feet net elevation gain. After crossing the bridge over the creek, you hike along a road for about a mile until you reach the Idaho Springs Reservoir. The first mile of the trail switchbacks down to a creek crossing. Copyright 2020 goColorado. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. The Ouray County Nordic Council and the City of Ouray host a full-moon cross-country ski and soak. During the winter snowshoes, crampons, and ice axe might be required. The Chicago Lakes trail branches off at the southwest corner of the lake and is a good option for those seeking a longer trip. I am still not sure if this was a good idea, but it is what it is. 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