The downside of the Chicago Lakes hike is that in includes a mile of monotonous road walking followed by another mile through the scorched remains of an old forest fire. Fortunately, the fire stopped short of the lakes themselves, and it is the last mile of the trail that really makes the hike worthwhile. The Chicago Lakes are extraordinarily scenic. The first lake is tucked away in the back of a steep glacial valley with thousand-foot granite cliffs plunging down to its eastern shore. The second lake rests 400 yards further south above a 300-foot wall of broken cliffs and steep grassy slopes. In my opinion this hike is not worthwhile unless you plan to go all the way to the upper lake. The lower lake is very attractive, but its scenic rewards are just not sufficient to justify two hours of walking on a road and through a burned area. The rugged beauty of the upper lake and the awesome view looking down onto the lower lake from above are the real prizes of the hike. The lakes are especially pretty in late morning, before the wind picks up but after the sun is high enough to clear the surrounding cliffs.
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Directions to: Chicago Lakesprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Nearby City||Idaho Springs|
|Elevation Gain||1,750 ft|
|Skill Level||Generally well marked and easy to follow.|
|Season||Midsummer through mid-fall. The higher parts of the trail are usually covered with snow from November through mid-July.|
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