Distance: 6.8 mile round trip
Elevation Gain: 10,192’ – 11,368’
Bathrooms at TH: Yes, closed in winter
Date Hiked: 19 February 2011
Overview: This challenging winter snowshoe starts at the popular area of Echo Lake at the Mount Evans seasonal closure parking. With a combination of icy trails, steep descents and fallen trees this scenic route is recommended only for the hearty! There is an alternate starting point located lower on Squaw Pass Road (Idaho Springs side) near CR 75. This would be an excellent option for those on XC skis or beginner snowshoers.
After about 30 minutes of wandering through the woods near this sign I found the correct Chicago Lakes Trail and started my snowshoe adventure. The trail may be well marked in the summer but in the winter when snow covers the path the route finding was difficult. The Forest Service trail info simply reads, "There are many social trails in this area. Choose the trail that heads southwest. The answer is not through the woods, but down a gully.
There was an intimidating, icy descent past steep skree fields down to the creek that I inched over with my hiking boots, snowshoes strapped to the pack
Crossing Chicago Creek and into the sunshine. If a person utilized the lower entrance along Squaw Pass Road they would intersect with the trail here and skip the steep portion. I crossed over the footbridge and finally found enough loose snow to warrant snowshoes.
So nice to strap the snowshoes to my feet - I just hate to carry the gear on the pack and would much rather use it!
I got a brief break as the trail followed an old service road to the Idaho Springs reservoir.
Here is the Idaho Springs Reservoir. Open spaces meant blustery winds! The wind had packed the snow and the walking was easy. After this the trail disappeared again into the woods.
I entered a 1978 forest fire burn site and from there it became extremely difficult to navigate over the logs and stumps.
In 1978 400 acres were burned in the Reservoir Fire.
The trail ended abruptly and after many attempts ending with post-holing and thumping my shins against submerged tree stumps, I turned and headed back home.
This trail recap located in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area features my Mt. Evans soap. Lightly scented with Lemongrass Essential Oils, this soap smells "bright" and "green," like lemon and earth. Using a delicate swirl colored with the pale natural lemon yellow of Annatto Seeds, this soap just shouts "Good Morning!"
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