Climbing Colorado's Fourteeners

Mount Evans Trailheads
Gorp.com
Mountain goat atop Mount Evans
Mountain goat atop Mount Evans (Photo courtesy of Tim's Guide to Mount Evans)

Mount Evans has the distinction of being the closest fourteener to Denver. Located in the Arapaho National Forest, Mount Evans lies a scant 36 miles west of Colorado's capitol building in downtown Denver. The mountain's large massif forms the mainstay of Denver's mountain backdrop and is visible to millions of people, serving as a constant reminder of why they choose to live in Colorado. For many people, their Rocky Mountain High starts here.

Maps

Required: Mount Evans, Arapaho National Forest
Optional: Georgetown, Harris Park, Idaho Springs, Pike National Forest
See overview map.

Trailheads

Echo Lake Trailhead: This trailhead is at 10,580 feet and provides access to Chicago Creek and the paved road up Mount Evans. Leave Interstate 70 at Exit 240 in Idaho Springs. Signs for Mount Evans mark this exit. Follow Colorado 103 south for 13.4 miles to Echo Lake, which is on the south side of the highway. You also can reach Echo Lake by following Colorado 103 west for 18.5 miles from the junction of Colorado 103 and Colorado 74 in Bergen Park. From the northwest side of Echo Lake, turn west onto a dirt road with a sign for the Echo Lake Picnic Area. Go 0.2 mile west then south to the trailhead.

There is also a parking lot east of Echo Lake at the junction of Colorado 103 and Colorado 5 (the Mount Evans Road). The road to the Echo Lake Picnic Area is 0.6 mile west of the Colorado 103Colorado 5 junction. This trailhead is accessible in winter.

Summit Lake Trailhead: This trailhead is at 12,850 feet and provides access to Evans' Northeast Face Route and the upper part of the Mount Evans Road. Leave Interstate 70 at Exit 240 in Idaho Springs. Follow Colorado 103 south for 13.4 miles to Echo Lake. You also can reach Echo Lake by following Colorado 103 west for 18.5 miles from the junction of Colorado 103 and Colorado 74 in Bergen Park.

From the east end of Echo Lake, follow Colorado 5 (the Mount Evans Road) for 9.1 miles as it climbs south to Summit Lake, which is on the west (right) side of the road. There are two additional parking areas on the road between Echo Lake and Summit Lake. The first is at 11,550 feet, 2.9 miles above Echo Lake. The second is at 12,150 feet, 4.8 miles above Echo Lake. Colorado 5 is closed in winter.

The Forest Service took over management of Summit Lake from the city of Denver in 1998. With that change came a $6 fee for driving up the Mount Evans Road. A seasonal pass costs $15. Rangers collect the fee on Colorado 5 at Echo Lake. The Forest Service uses the money to improve trails and other public services, and to protect natural resources.

West Chicago Creek Trailhead: This trailhead is at 9,600 feet and provides access to the West Chicago Creek Trail. Leave Interstate 70 at Exit 240 in Idaho Springs. A sign for Mount Evans marks this exit. Follow Colorado 103 south for 6.6 miles to a dirt road on the south (right) side of the highway. This junction has a sign for the West Chicago Creek Campground. Leave Colorado 103 and follow the dirt road southwest for 2.8 miles to the West Chicago Creek Campground and the trailhead. In winter the snowplow turns around at the start of a switchback 2.0 miles above Colorado 103; you can often drive beyond this point.

Guanella Pass Trailhead: This trailhead is at 11,669 feet and provides access to the west sides of Evans and Bierstadt. Take Exit 228 off Interstate 70 at Georgetown and follow Guanella Pass Road south for 10.0 miles, or leave U.S. 285 at Grant and follow Guanella Pass Road north for 12.2 miles. Guanella Pass Road is mostly dirt but is passable for passenger cars. Guanella Pass Road is open in winter but is the last priority for the snowplow crew. You can see Bierstadt's rounded mass east of Guanella Pass.

Scott Gomer Creek Trailhead: This trailhead is at 9,620 feet and provides access to the Abyss Lake Trail and the south sides of Evans and Bierstadt. Leave U.S. 285 at Grant and follow Guanella Pass Road north for 5.0 miles. You can reach the trailhead by taking Exit 228 off Interstate 70 at Georgetown, following Guanella Pass Road south for 10.0 miles to Guanella Pass and continuing south for an additional 7.2 miles to the trailhead, which is adjacent to Burning Bear Campground. This trailhead is accessible in winter.


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