Snowshoeing Colorado: Chicago Lakes

J & I took our first snowshoeing trip of the season on Saturday. We headed to Echo Lake/Chicago Lakes in Arapaho National Forest with a friend (Grant) we met during our Wilderness First Responder course.

The Echo Lake Trailhead is a little over an hour from Denver ... except when you decide to go on a Saturday and have to compete with ski traffic!! We left at 7am and sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on 70 until we got off at Idaho Springs. Who knew so many people go skiing during the winter in Colorado?????

We parked at Echo Lake Trailhead. Almost immediately, we veered off course for a little over a mile and had a number of unnecessary uphills. In our defense, there were A LOT of footprints in the snow. In many directions.
Between the arrows - no bueno, friends, no bueno.

This is not normal terrain for snowshoeing.

Aside from our slight blunder off trail, the Chicago Lakes trail was really packed down and smooth sailing. Most people had snowshoes on, but we did see 2 guys without and they did fine. The trailhead is at 10,600 feet and eventually you get to 11,700 feet, but it's a pretty gradual climb. I'm still adjusting to the altitude, so of course I took it nice and slow.

It's supposed to be 9 miles out-and-back to lower and upper Chicago Lakes, but J & I didn't make it all the way to Chicago Lakes (Grant did though!) We made it to the Idaho Springs Reservoir, right before the Mt. Evans Wilderness boundary. In total, J & I ended up doing about 5 miles. It was a lovely first winter outing. We twisted in and out of the whipped cream-topped spruce trees and were rewarded with views of Mt. Evans, Mt. Spalding and Mt. Warren. We plan to do a lot of outdoor activity in the mountains of Colorado as part of J's Denali training. Lucky me!!

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