The Chicago Lakes Trail on Mount Evans is a fabulous place to escape the noise of the city and experience a veritable winter wonderland. Beginning at Echo Lake on Mount Evans Road and winding down a steep ridge to Chicago Creek, the trail passes through untamed winter wilderness to Chicago Lakes. The trail is easily discernible even in the winter, except after a recent heavy snow. The scenery is breathtaking and the solitude restores the spirit.
To get to the trail head, take I-70 to Idaho Springs and turn onto Mount Evans Road or take Squaw Pass Road from Evergreen to Echo Lake and find a parking place. Strap on your snowshoes and head around the north side of the lake. Later in the winter the ice should be thick enough to walk on, so just hug the shoreline and hike around to the west side of the lake. Look for the Chicago Lakes Trail sign and follow the trail. After a short distance, the trail will proceed down steep switchbacks to the bottom where it will cross Chicago Creek. Lower Chicago Lake is about 4 miles from the start and it is another mile to Upper Chicago Lake. This is a tough hike on snowshoes so be sure to bring plenty of refreshments. Winter storms are frequent at this elevation, so keep your eye on the skies and make sure you have the proper clothing for a quick weather change.
The trail along the ridge can get quite slippery, especially if it starts snowing while you are hiking along the creek. Using cross country ski poles along the ridge could be a lifesaver if the weather gets dicey during your journey.