Mt. Evans - West Ridge via Chicago Creek
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(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||5,600 feet|
|RT Length:||16.5 - 17.5 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Evans|
|County Sheriff:||Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
|National Forests:||Arapaho, Pike|
|Wilderness Area:||Mount Evans|
Take Exit 240 at Idaho Springs on Interstate 70. Drive south on Colorado 103 for 13.5 miles at Echo Lake. You can park near the lake (by the picnic area) or drive up to the Echo Lake Lodge and park in one of the parking lots near the entrance to the Mt. Evans road (Colorado 5).
This route has a great trail all the way to Summit Lake and is considered the standard way to climb Evans from a lower trailhead.
Park near the Echo Lake lodge and locate a trail which starts on the west side of the lodge parking area - Photo #1. Follow the trail west through the forest (Photo #2) for approx. 0.5 mile to reach a trail junction ( 39.65690° N, -105.60568° W) for the Chicago Lakes trail - Photo #3. If you started your hike from the Echo Lake Park, at the northwest corner of the lake, walk south past the lake to reach the Chicago Lakes trail.
Continue west and southwest to the side of a ridge (Photo #4) where you can look down into Chicago Creek. Switchback down 400 feet (Photo #5) to Chicago Creek and cross the creek using a log bridge (Photo #6) to reach a dirt road - Photo #7. Turn left and follow the road up to the Idaho Springs Reservoir ( 39.64498° N, -105.61653° W) at 10,600' - Photo #8. Shortly after the reservoir, pass a couple of cabins (Photo #9) and the road ends at a trail kiosk ( 39.63984° N, -105.61689° W) - Photo #10. Fill out a wilderness permit and follow the trail into the Mt. Evans Wilderness - Photo #11 and Photo #12. After hiking over 1.5 miles in the wilderness, you'll reach an overlook (11,550'), just uphill from Lower Chicago Lake - Photo #13. Your next goal is to reach Upper Chicago Lake ( 39.61269° N, -105.63896° W), but you must get past the headwall which separates the two lakes. Continue southwest/south, weave past some large boulders (Photo #14) and ascend steep terrain on the far right side of the headwall - Photo #15 and Photo #16. After gaining the headwall, it's a short walk to Upper Chicago Lake - Photo #17.
Your goal is to hike to the saddle between Mt. Warren (left) and Mt. Spalding (right), which is 1,100' higher. Turn left, cross the stream outlet (Photo #18) and follow the trail to the base of Mt. Warren's (13,307') west slopes - Photo #19 and Photo #20. Climb steeply up the slope (Photo #21) and traverse south on the great trail - Photo #22. The trail approaches some cliff bands (Photo #23) but you'll find that it is easy to follow and not that difficult. Photo #24 looks back on the ascent. Continue under the cliff bands (Photo #25) to reach the saddle (Photo #26) between Mt. Warren and Mt. Spalding, near the north end of Summit Lake ( 39.60140° N, -105.64241° W) (12,900').
To reach the summit, turn right at the saddle/lake and use Mt. Evans - Route #2 (West Ridge via Mt. Spalding). To reduce the return mileage by about 0.75 mile, the Mt. Evans - Route #5 (Northeast Face) route can be used to return to Summit Lake.
If the Mt. Evans road (Colorado 5) is open and you don't want to hike round-trip, have someone pick you up at the summit or Summit Lake on your return. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mount Evans Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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