Closest community: Red Feather Lakes/Livermore | Get directions I doubted if my snowshoes would be warranted. Getting out of my car at Echo Lake, the wind was a bit calmer (meaning not bad enough to warrant me heading home). Wide-open, snow-covered meadows reflect enough light to make it seem bright as daytime. Temperatures drop swiftly and steeply. 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. All Rights Reserved. The overlook platform is half a mile round trip along a wheelchair friendly path. Just as nighttime snowshoeing enhances the beauty of the backcountry, it also enhances the dangers. And it wasn’t until I ventured out at night that I found the best kind of snowshoeing. Despite the added risk, a little precaution can make full-moon snowshoeing just as safe as heading out during the day. The trail undulates ruggedly on a fast descent through healthy spruce and fir to Chicago Creek (1.1 miles : 10,342'). The resorts usually offer rentals, but local ski shops are often cheaper. After crossing the bridge over the creek, you hike along a road for about a mile until you reach the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Really, this is a big reason when it comes to hiking and backpacking that I choose to venture out solo. The ranch doesn’t offer guided nighttime tours, but groomed trails of all levels are open for full-moon fun. The trail climbs upward for the remaining 3 miles. 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). It wasn’t until I started snowshoeing that I felt I had really experienced a Colorado winter. www.maisondeski.com, Ouray Mountain Sports, 732 Main St., Ouray (970) 325-4284 Evans Wilderness, CO P: 970-568-6343 It has a reputation as being excellent for rainbow trout fishing. I went left. NotifyChicago: Due to high waves and icy conditions, the Lake Front Trail … Actually, no one (other than myself) knows how famous for this I am – because the only time I can get away with this sort of spontaneity is when I’m alone.  And, often, when it comes to outdoor adventure, I am alone. We were okay with that. I would have to locate the trail from here on. The Chicago Lakes Trailhead has an elevation of 10,600 while it's destination has an elevation of 11,800. I love snowshoeing. Afterward, warm up and relax with a dip in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, which stays open late especially for the event. After refueling, you can continue the trail up the southern ridge to Summit Lake to properly finish the Chicago Lakes Trail. Maybe I should have turned right afterall? If you decide to continue, remember the 400 feet of elevation gain on the return trip. The trail switchbacks about 400 feet down through wooded hillside to a log bridge across Chicago Creek. 10 Snowshoe Drive Snowshoe, WV 26209 ©2020 Snowshoe Mountain Resort Complete freedom. Popular daytime destinations are a good nighttime option, as the trails are usually packed down and obvious. Please subscribe to our mailing list for the latest new posts. Another option from Echo Lake is to snowshoe straight up the closed-for-winter Mount Evans Road. Enter your email address receive notifications of new posts by email: Your email address will not be published. Directions: The trail to the Chicago Lakes starts at the Echo Lake picnic area. Rather than regret not bringing them, I strapped them to my pack just in case. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State. 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. 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 … Visit www.cbnordic.org or call (970) 349-1707 (ext. The hike to Chicago Lakes is a great hike near Denver, taking you to pretty mountain lakes and into the high country of Mt. 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 I’d be happier turning around. See chapter "43. 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. 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!  Sure enough, rounding up Squaw Pass, the wind raced with such force that my car wavered along the road. 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. The lake marks the end of the trek, but we suggest taking a break to soak in the view before you turn around! Most of the birds have gone down below the snow-line, the plants sleep, and all the fly-wings are folded. Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. Glissading Down Snowbanks 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. Staggeringly steep mountains seem even larger when they’re backlit by the glow of a heavy moon. Close out the evening with a bonfire, marshmallows and hot chocolate. Though open space and county parks are great for close-to-home day trips, most have curfews. Evan’s Wilderness. 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. This section is the only downside to this trail: starting out with such a steep downhill means you end with a steep uphill. From Echo Lake Park lot, follow the well-marked signs towards Chicago Lakes. Admittedly, I don’t much relish in the making of set-in-stone plans.  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, I’ll wake up and the weather will be shitty and I’ll decide to go tomorrow instead. 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. Chicago Lakes Trail (#52) Leaving from Echo Lake, the trail goes downhill for the first mile. 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. I can't say I have ever had to balance on downed trees wearing snowshoes, and it is quite the awkward experience. Trail Snapshot: Chicago Lakes Hike Near Idaho Springs, Colorado 280 Capitol Reef St, I decided on the way home that I give up on Chicago Lakes Basin as a winter hike, and I’ll save it for the warmer, greener days of summer where the trail is obvious and the wind is surely not as fierce. 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 second lake is above treeline. All content and images © Erica Ruch 1993-Infinity | Site by, Merry Christmas Eve, friends. See chapter "26. See Access and Trail Information for train and trail access, trail statistics, etc. To keep water from freezing on longer trips, add powdered sports drink and store bottles upside down. Call the Nordic Center at (970) 726-8231 for more information. The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers guided full-moon ski and snowshoe tours for $15. The Chicago Lakes hike begins at Echo Lake. 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. There’s no telling when things won’t go according to plan. Dogs are also able to use this trail. The weather had been beautiful at our house at 8500’, but I know well that weather nearer to the Continental Divide and the high country is usually much different. Heavily-trafficked beginner trails curl around Echo Lake, 14 miles south of Idaho Springs on Colorado 103. Perhaps I am just not meant to see Chicago Lakes in the winter (though, knowing winter in these mountains, they were probably buried under several feet of snow anyway). To the east was a large waterfall with grand, sweeping views of Lower Chicago Lake. Traveled: Traveled: Chicago Lakes Trail (6,234′), “Hushed now is the life that so late was beating warmly. www.crestedbuttesports.com, Crystal Ski Shop, 3216 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder (303) 449-7669 You can also head to the summit of Mount Evans from Chicago Lakes. Small creeks, just barely running past white-capped boulders, gurgle louder. Snowshoeing the Chicago Lakes Trail in the winter provides a greater sense of solitude. Located at the base of Mt. I hope you’re 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. Lots of people know it's where we get the water to make all that white fluffy stuff each winter. 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). Reflection Lakes and Inspiration Point: 7 miles, 670 feet net elevation gain. 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. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Get off on Highway […] The trail will diverge away from Echo Lake and will traverse along a scenic valley with mountain views off in the distance. Yet the sun beams gloriously many a cloudless day in midwinter, casting long lance shadows athwart the dazzling expanse.” Crested Butte Sports, Emmons Loop, Crested Butte (970) 349-7516 Nisqually Vista Snowshoe Trail: 1 mile, 200 feet net elevation gain. This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. The trailhead is located at 10,600′; the final destination is at 11,800′. Don’t snowshoe alone at night. Here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. I stopped for a bit and ate a ProBar and drank some water and then pushed up the mountainside. From Evergreen, take Squaw Pass Road to Echo Lake. Chicago’s newest park is an excellent place to escape the noise of the city and … Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management has closed portions of the Lake Front Trail from Oak Street to Ohio Street. A last word of advice: No matter where you decide to snowshoe, don’t forget the hot chocolate. At about 1½ miles, this is a good nighttime turnaround point. Both lakes offer excellent views of surrounding peaks. Copyright 2020 goColorado. Evans Road, Echo Lake sits next to Squaw Pass Road, providing a great jumping-off point for numerous adventures. Distance: 6.5 miles It's 4.5 miles to the upper lake from the trailhead. Call ahead to confirm group tours. Northerly Island. Since the bottoms will ice first, the lid won’t freeze shut. Don’t 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. Watch the weather and add a flashlight to your pack. Lincoln Lake Trail, accessible from Echo Lake year-round, is not as glamorous as its sister trail, Chicago Lakes, but is a wonderfully private and scenic trail favored by backpackers, horseback riders, snowshoers, and skiers. I’m guessing that this is quite common for this area in the winter – the Chicago Lakes Basin acting as a tunnel for the winds coming off of Mt Evans. USFS Echo Lake Trailhead webpage. The upper lake is a great place to rest and have lunch. I couldn’t have jumped in my car any quicker to get out of it. During the winter snowshoes, crampons, and ice axe might be required. Even if a short trip is the plan, bring an extra hat, socks, gloves, water and food. The snowshoe-only trail is a basic, rolling route that winds through the forest and intersects with cross-country trails and Brainard Lake Road. 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. Getting back to my car the wind was brutal – flinging my car doors around, and seeping in through my “windproof” clothing. Two very different places and directions. Many rental shops allow clients to pick up gear the evening before the rental date, and return it the morning after. The snow pack was not looking very impressive in the area, after the warm, and relatively dry, weeks before. The Chicago Lakes trail branches off at the southwest corner of the lake and is a good option for those seeking a longer trip. Echo Lake and Chicago Lakes Trails" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Snowshoe Routes -- Colorado's Front Range. 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. The Ouray County Nordic Council and the City of Ouray host a full-moon cross-country ski and soak. White, who has … Alpine lakes and stunning vista are not always locked away in the back country. There is nice dispersed camping at the lakes. Maybe that’s the golden rule. While the views from there are spectacular, Summit Lake itself is a wonderful example of the alpine environment. This is also a wonderful summer trail that’s just an hour drive from Denver. 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. Yeah, we know, the lake itself isn't really a secret. The most recent is titled, “50 of the Best Snowshoe Trails Around Lake Tahoe,” and published by University of Nevada Press. 3) for more information. Length 4.9 miElevation gain 1948 ftRoute type Out & back This will be the easy part of the hike for the trail then climbs upward the remaining three miles. From here, the trail switchbacks steeply downhill to a stream crossing. Burn area deadfall The trail winds through the woods for a few hundred yards, passing two more boulders in the meadow on the right (The Willows Boulders). Leaving Echo Lake, Chicago Lakes Trail travels downhill for the first mile, here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Mt. Paradise Valley Snowshoe Loop 2.8 … That is the true beauty of Snow Lake--how readily it shares the splendor of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. 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. I’m famous for maneuvers like this. The basic trip is between 2-3 miles on beginner terrain and heads out to a tepee where guides serve hot drinks and snacks. Having my footprints to follow, made the hike back down quite quick. The first mile of the trail switchbacks down to a creek crossing. It is here that the both Chicago Lakes Trail and Lincoln Lakes Trail begin. Full-moon snowshoeing brings together all the elements of a backcountry day trip and multiplies them exponentially. Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Check open/close hours before exploring at night. 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. Change of plans. Extra staff is usually available to take faster groups on longer routes, and the center is even willing to organize a custom tour. 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. 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. I am still not sure if this was a good idea, but it is what it is. The howling wind was back with a vengeance.  Last year I experienced the same relentless winds when I hit this spot on the trail – fierce cold wind driving across the frozen lake. Echo Lake" in Colorado Mountain Club's book Colorado's Quiet Winter Trails. Explore the full trail profile below for the Chicago Lakes which includes driving directions, map, and tips. 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. Some shops offer discounts for advance reservations. The routes are clearly marked and well-traveled, so it’s easy to stay on trail. For more information call (800) 228-1876. The trail to the second lake, above treeline, is difficult to follow at times and is very steep. DMP trails map. From Idaho Springs take W. Chicago Creek trail south to Echo Lake. Description: The Chicago Lakes Trail is a great hiking opportunity and location in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Yes, the trails around Bear Lake are always fantastic, and the snowshoe trails to Dream and Emerald lakes are enjoyable and beautiful. That’s how I prefer to operate.  It’s how most of my best stories and adventures have begun. Clear Creek County 365 snowshoeing webpage. www.skiwp.com/skishop.html. The main Chicago Lakes Trail continues to the right, passing a small stand of aspens. The problem is, … Summit Lake Park provides easy access to the popular Summit Lake and Chicago Lakes Overlook. A partially full moon can be enough to light the trail on a clear night, but a few winter clouds can change everything. There are several great camping spots along the trail, in particular to the southwest of the first Chicago Lake. Most people in the winter hike to the reservoir and turn around, and as I continued past the reservoir on the trail to the lakes  I found that I was the only one on that section of the trail that day as it was buried under deep snow drifts and there were no other footprints to be found. In the distance, the Chicago Lakes Trail snaked up steep rocky terrain towards Summit Lake, which rests at 13,002 feet. Worth Noting: Snowshoeing this trail in the winter provides a greater sense of solitude than hiking it in the summer. 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. I love the solitude; the cold, high-mountain winter air and the reward of blazing new trail that I know others will follow. Evan’s Wilderness. Berthoud, CO 80513 Hop aboard Ballhooter Lift for a scenic ride to Snowshoe's best kept secret, Shaver's Lake. Both snowshoers and Nordic skiers are welcome at the Snowmass Cross Country Center’s full-moon tour. Here Chicago Creek is dammed to form the Idaho Springs Reservoir. When in doubt, turn left (or if it’s between the Sierras and somewhere else…always pick the Sierras). And, there aren’t a few people — there’s no one. 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. Mount Rainier National Park . W: www.gocolorado.com. Mineral Spring Gulch. ☀️ #whitetail, #tbt because this time of year, when everything is, If my life hadn’t 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. 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. Groups split according to pace and experience, but the tours last about an hour. Follow the trail through the meadow, across two make-shift bridges, then into the woods on the opposite side of the meadow. www.ouraysports.com, Viking Ski Shop, 78966 Highway 40 (at the intersection with Vasquez Road ) Winter Park, (970)281-7220 Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Located at 10,600 feet, Echo Lake is a small, shallow natural lake formed when glacial fill dammed drainage in the area. You’ll pass three more mountain lakes as you punch up into the high country of Colorado’s Mt. 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. Snowshoe Trail, Waterton Lakes National Park: Address, Snowshoe Trail Reviews: 4.5/5 From the trailhead, pick up one of the numerous social trails heading southwest. The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing. Lost Lake Trail: From its start near Eldora Mountain Resort, this 5.4-mile excursion winds through a tall evergreen forest to Lost Lake, where you can catch gorgeous views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.From the route’s winter start, head up the road about 1.3 miles to the Hessie Trailhead. 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. Learn how your comment data is processed. We’d heard the trail was socked in by snow, so it would have to wait for another day. 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. 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. Kalama River Trail: 8 miles, 500 feet net elevation gain. – John Muir, Mountains of California. 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. 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. Rent any needed equipment ahead of time. Tours are free but rentals run $10; hot drinks and small snacks are provided. I decide at the last second to turn left instead of right, to keep going, or turn around. You’ll essentially skirt the southern boundary of Echo Lake. www.crystalskishop.com, Maison De Ski, 2804 Colorado Blvd., Idaho Springs (800) 228-8915 So, I made my abrupt left, and heeded the call of the Mt Evans Wilderness. For about a mile round trip along a scenic valley with mountain views off in the winter snowshoes, seeping., I strapped them to my pack just in case that I felt I had really experienced a Colorado.! 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