Peak(s):  Gray Wolf Mtn  -  13,602 feet
Date Posted:  08/07/2017
Date Climbed:   08/05/2017
Author:  2 left ft
 Gray Wolf Mtn from Echo Lake  

I am entering this trip report as I've wanted to hike Gray Wolf for several years but could find little information as an out-and-back hike from Echo Lake. There are reports from the Bierstadt and Evans side and others with Gray Wolf as part of a loop but very little approaching from the north via Echo Lake.
Hiked with Zach. Weather - temps in the low 40s at the start, mid 50s at the end, wind at 5-10 mph most of the day with short periods of 15+ mph.
We started at Echo Lake at 7am on the Chicago Lakes Trail, hiked up to Idaho Springs Reservoir (image 1) and then toward Upper & Lower Chicago Lakes. About halfway between Idaho Springs Reservoir and Lower Chicago Lake is a creek that feeds into Chicago Creek. About 100 yards before the creek is a large clearing on the west side with a lot of dead evergreen trees burned from a fire in 1978 (image 2 & 3). We left the trail here made our way through the easily navigated willows and downed trees and had a choice to take a shelf to the left (south, image 4) or go straight west to catch the ridge. We went straight and caught the ridge (image 5). Once on the ridge we stayed close to the ridge but on the west side and headed south toward Gray Wolf (image 6, 7 & 8). After several false summits we reached Gray Wolf around noon (image 9 & 10). I am a slow hiker and had no device to measure the distance but estimate it at around 7-8 miles up and about 3800 ft elevation gain from Echo Lake to the summit when considering the 400 ft decline shortly after you start the Chicago Lakes Trail and the 400 ft return. We left the summit around 1pm and decided to take a more direct route back (northeast to north/northeast) to catch the Chicago Lakes Trail and after about 1/2 mile left the ridge came down a very steep area toward several smaller lakes with a small creek that feeds into Chicago Creek (image 8). While this looks good from above, once you get to the lower of the smaller lakes, there are willows. I estimated about 1/4 mile of willows took us 45 minutes to navigate (cliffed-out, so thick you couldn't get through, etc). We finally got to the Chicago Lakes Trail and followed the great trail back to Echo Lake, arriving at the car around 4:45pm. We both decided that returning along the ridge and descending the area we came up would have made for a better and more enjoyable hike and saved about an hour. In the future I would only consider the smaller lakes route in the case of inclement weather and needing to get off the ridge for safety. I would say we could have kept the hike at class 1 if we hadn't gone through the willows on the descent.
Sorry for the photos as this is my 1st trip report and I couldn't figure how to upload them.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 Comments or Questions

Hells Hole
08/08/2017 11:37
Is where I came up from years ago. I always thought a good hike would be up that narrow basin with those small lakes, that was before I knew about Gray Wolf. I tried Evans from Echo, but never made it past the upper lake and took pictures of that basin. I hated that climb back up to Echo Lake! Nice TR on a different approach.

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