Distance: 8.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 10,620 ft - 11,550 ft (lower lake)
Elevation Gain: 930 ft (net), 1,957 ft (cumulative)
Date Hiked: 10 July, 2011
Dogs: On leash, Mt. Evans Wilderness
Bathroom at trailhead: yes
I have fallen in love with Chicago Lakes in the Mt. Evans Wilderness near Idaho Springs. The destination is stunning in that glacial-carved, majestic sort of way, and the route travels through a mixed Fir/Spruce forest, my favorite biome. Add the 14,000 foot Mt. Evans as a backdrop and you have the perfect alpine tableau.
After a descent of approximately 286 ft, the basin is reach (at 1.2 miles). The elevation here is 10,334 ft. At 1.3 miles is a sturdy bridge crossing Chicago Creek followed by a dirt road leading to the Idaho Springs Reservoir. The route stays on this road for 1 mile until it reaches the reservoir itself at 2 miles. It is then a short quarter of a mile to the wilderness boundary and kiosk and another 2 miles to the lower lake.
Summit Lake. From there you can look down on Chicago Lakes and feel proud about your accomplishment.