Directions: From Idaho Springs, follow 103 south towards Mt. Evans. Follow the road as it winds past picnic areas and trailheads and eventually reaches Echo Lake. There is a large parking area just off the road but if that is full, you can turn right just before the lake and follow a good dirt road to another parking area with restrooms.
Echo Lake is a terrific resource in the winter. The easy snowshoeing and winter hiking provides a chance for alpine adventure that is suitable for the whole family. Additionally, hiking Echo Lake in winter, rather than summer, allows you to avoid the crowds and hike around the entire perimeter of the lake (the summer trail only runs along the west and south shores). Click here for the summer trail description.
The hike starts by parking just off of Chicago Creek Road (103), the typical parking lot is often inaccessible in the winter. Once you start your hike and reach the lakeshore, you can go in either direction. Starting off counter-clockwise follows the typical trail along the western shore.
Heading clockwise starts you off by following the frozen lake bed along the northern shore. Be very careful here to make sure that the lake is fully frozen. There is no official trail along the north shore so hiking the north shore in winter means that you are hiking over frozen lake and wetlands. The best mountain views can be found along the north shore where Mt. Evans, Mt. Spaulding, and Grey Wolf Mountain dominate the horizon.
Follow the north shore for .3 of a mile until you reach the wetlands/natural area. Here you can either follow the tracks through the natural area (generally closed but less impactful if there is a lot of snow cover) towards the Echo Lake Lodge to meet up with the official trail along the south shore or you can follow the frozen rim of Echo Lake to the south shore. Continue following the lake shore or find the official trail to return to the parking area.
Echo Lake provides a flat trail with good mountain views at roughly 10,000 feet of elevation making this a great introduction to winter alpine hiking. We took our five year old and two year old on this trail and it proved a perfect way for the kiddos to get accustomed to snowshoeing and play in the snow. Enjoy!
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Echo Lake (Winter)
Arapaho National Forest
Date Hiked: March 31, 2019
Distance: 1.2 mile loop
Elevation Gain: minimal
Elevation Min/Max: 10,523 to 10,610 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 39' 37" N; 105º 36' 18" W
Managing Agency: Denver Mountain Parks