Colorado is known for having some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. Whether you’re looking for a challenging 14er that will push your skills or a casual out and back trip with the family, there is something for everyone in terms of difficulty and accessibility of hiking trails. The best part is you do not have to travel hours to find these amazing trails, there are countless amazing trails right in your backyard!
Given our location at Echo Mountain we’re fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of amazing hiking trails and still be conveniently located just 45 minutes from the Front Range. We wanted to share some of our favorite spots with you so you can make the most out of your next hiking adventure.
Chief Mountain Trail
Just on the other side of CO-103, Chief Mountain Trail starts right above our very own chairlift! It is a local favorite and for very good reasons, it offers stunning views of the neighboring peaks such as Mt. Evans and the Continental Divide and gives adventure seekers a taste of high elevation hiking without fully committing themselves to a 14er.
Chief Mountain Trail is an out and back trail and in total it is about 3 miles long. There is about 1000 ft of total elevation gain throughout the hike and Chief Mountain sits at 11,710 ft tall at the peak. On average this hike takes a little less than 2 hours to complete and is rated an “Easy to Moderate” difficulty trail.
Chicago Lakes Trail
If you’re looking for a step up in length and difficulty but still want something close to home, then the Chicago Lakes Trail is the perfect next step. Nestled under the shadow of Mt. Evans, the Chicago Lake Trail provides a challenging hike with stunningly gorgeous views as the reward. You’ll find the beginning of this trail next to Echo Lake and you can use the free parking lot as a homebase as you prepare to take on this 11.3 mile hike.
The trail starts off with a descent into a scenic valley but that is quickly followed by 3,330 ft of elevation gain throughout the entire hike. On average this trail takes almost 7 hours to complete and it will leave you feeling tired, sore, but deeply rewarded from the incredible views you’ll experience. The Chicago lakes are found next to Mt. Evans at the foot of beautiful rock formations and provide gorgeous views as you approach them at the halfway point of the hike. The lakes provide a great resting place during the hike and even have plenty of trout waiting to be caught if you pack in some fly fishing gear. This hike provides a rewarding challenge to anyone looking for more distance and elevation gains in their hikes!
Echo Lake Trail to Idaho Springs Reservoir
If the last two hikes sound a little too challenging for your taste and you want something a little more easy going and relaxing, then the trail from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs Reservoir is right up your alley. This trail is considered “Moderate” difficulty and begins along the shore line of Echo Lake.
It is another out and back trail that is a total of 4 miles long and it provides consistent elevation change throughout the hike. This hike will take you an average of 2 hours to complete and it is bookended by two beautiful lakes so there’s plenty of opportunities to relax by the water if you need a break from hiking. If you’re looking for an easier, more relaxing hike that is still at a higher elevation with some beautiful views, this might just be the one for you!
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
Last but not least we have Mt. Evans Scenic Byway! If hiking is not your thing but you still want to enjoy amazing high elevation views close to the Front Range, then this is perfect for you! The Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is a 28 mile long road that gains over 7,000 feet of elevation and reaches a final altitude of 14,130 feet! This vertical gain makes this road the highest paved road in North America!
Once at the top you can get out of your vehicle and enjoy the scenery from atop one of Colorado’s famous 14ers. This paved route to the top of a 14,000 ft mountain provides an incredibly rare and unique experience for visitors as these types of views are usually reserved for those who are willing to hike to the top of a mountain.
Reservations are required for this route so make sure to book in advance at www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10087438.
These local trails provide a little something for everyone and are incredibly accessible from the Front Range. If you’re looking to escape the summer heat and enjoy some amazing scenery then taking the quick trip up CO-103 can provide many great hiking opportunities. Also there might be the opportunity to stop by and visit us here at Echo Mountain in the near future, so stay tuned for updates on that!