Echo Lake area

Echo Lake

Echo Lake, off of the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway

Hiking Details:

  • Distance: Echo Lake: On the road.  To Chicago Lakes : 8 miles roundtrip
  •  Elevation Gain: To Chicago Lakes: 1,400 feet
  • To get there: Take I-70 west to Idaho Springs exit 240. From there, take the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway 14 miles to Echo Lake.

It’s a lazy day, unassuming of any kind of goal or objective other than the most basic: to get out. Our check engine light goes on as soon as we exit the highway, 17 miles from the Echo Lake trailhead. We check the engine. We shrug. And we drive on. It doesn’t look like we’re going to explode or breakdown. There’s no reason to head home rather than out. Echo Lake is, to my surpise, right off the road. As we drive past it I turn to the map in my Colorado Snowshoeing book. I turn it this way and that. I kind of see how it’s off road, but not really. The lake sits at what is the Mt.  Evans entrance station in the summer. It’s less crowded than we anticipated, which is always  a nice surprise in the mountains. After a bathroom break (on a, literally, frosted toilet) we head up the road. As usual this winter, Alex is on his skis and I am on my snowshoes.  It’s quiet; we only come across a couple other pairs of hikers. At the first switchback in the road I stop.

“Look at our beautiful state,” I say to Alex.

After 23 years of livin here, I still marvel it. With age, I feel, comes a deeper and deeper addiction to the mountains.

As we continue up the road, we hit spots where pavement is showing through from the Colorado winter sunshine. I sit for a moment on a dry spot of blacktop, sunning myself. Up and up we go, with no destination. As it always does, this gets to me after a bit. I know the saying: it’s about the journey, not the destination. I agree, I suppose. I love the journey in some senses. I love the journey in travelling and all the little discoveries made each day. I love to journey through a book, oblivious to what the end might show me. But usually, when I’m journeying down a trail, I hunger for a destination.

‘Is there less discovery to be made in an afternoon’s time?’ I ask myself. ‘Does a trail hold less than a book or a (capital T) Trip?’

I don’t know the answer. There’s a lot to be disovered on a trail, but I just love the climax of a good destination!

Eventually we turn around and have a slight misadventure in deep and slippery snow off the trail. We didn’t accomplish much. We didn’t really go anywhere. It was a short day, relaxing, lazy. We were out, so I am content.

Hiking Details from,


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