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449 Chicago Lakes - Evans 2011-07-30

Mount Evans from the top of Spalding

Leaving Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove south to Mount Evans. The mountain is part of Arapaho National Forest and Denver Mountain Park System. Proudly Mount Evans stands watching over Denver and dominating the skyline. Camping at the Echo Lake campground we prepared for a climb of Mount Evans. Jon and Laura were going to do the Summit Ridge route and we were going to attempt the Chicago Lakes trail to Summit Ridge route.

Last year, Amy and I had scouted the route but had never attempted it. Gerry Roach (author of Colorado Fourteeners) called the route, the Mountaineers Route on Mount Evans. We really wanted to give it a try but the route was supposed to be long and steep.


Chicago Lakes sign, trail number 52


Departing camp at daybreak we started our hike. After traversing around Echo Lake, we found the Chicago Lake Trail. The trail left the Echo Lake area and almost immediately began to descend to Chicago Creek. As we walked easily down the trail, we grimaced at the thought of having to climb the trail on the return.

Crossing the creek we reached the Idaho Springs Reservoir and finally the wilderness area boundary. The trail entered the boundary and gradually climbed until the upper Chicago Lake. A steep path led to the lake. After crossing the stream at the lake's outlet, we saw our fate. A small trail left the lake and climbed the steep slope to Summit Lake.

We started slow and maintained a steady pace. The path switchbacked up the slope finding the easiest way. The trail was still steep, difficult and long. Finally we arrived at Summit Lake.


Evans summit ridge


After a short break we began the Summit Ridge route. The trail climbed Mount Spalding first, following it's east ridge. The route was nothing but fun. We enjoyed moving over the exposed rock and the views of Mount Evans and Summit Lake.

From the summit of Spalding we descended to the saddle between Spalding and Evans and then began the ascent of Evans. For a variation, we climbed above the trail on the ridge all of the way to the summit. It was a grand experience.


the long descent from Summit Lake


The summit was crowded with tourist that had walked the few hundred feet from the parking area but we still were happy to add the Chicago Lake Route to our mountain resumes.

A few Chicago Lake - Mount Evans notes ...

Echo Lake has restrooms and water.

The Echo Lake Lodge is a gift shop and restaurant.

The trail was only moderate to the upper Chicago Lake.

The slope to the upper lake and to Summit Lake were rated as difficult. The trail to Summit Lake was also very long.

The East Ridge of Spalding was fun.

Mount Evans summit was very crowded. It does not seem fair that you have to share the summit with all those who drove to the top! I guess it is similar to those who drive as far as possible on the four wheel drive roads.

There are privies at Summit Lake and at Mount Evans Summit Parking Area.

The Northeast Slope of Evans is a fast descent over the loose pea sized scree.

The descent from Summit Lake was long and steep.

The final climb to return to Echo Lake was as difficult as expected.

The climb is very similar in length but a little less difficult than an ascent of Longs Peak. Evans would make a great training climb for Longs.

The Chicago Lakes - Mount Evans route was fun, but long with difficult sections. Carpe Diem!

Oh, Jon and Laura also enjoyed their romp of the Summit Ridge Route.

Happy Evans trails


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