If you have never been to Colorado, many say the one thing you must do is “climb a fourteener.” This hybrid coach and hiking tour takes you out of Denver (elevation 5,250 feet above sea-level) and gradually brings you up to 10,600 ft. to Echo Lake Park, our first stop.
At Echo Lake, we will hike around the lake through the spruce and fir tree forest, part of the sub-alpine ecosystem, and take in sweeping vistas of Mount Evans en route to Echo Lake Lodge. Built in 1926, the historic timber lodge is on the National Register and where we will stop for a bite to eat. From there, we motor our way on the Mt. Evans Byway to the next elevation: Summit Lake Park (elevation 12,840 ft), which anchors the high-altitude end of Denver’s mountain park system. Summit Lake Park is a national natural landmark with amazing tundra vegetation. While above timberline, we will hike out and back to the Chicago Lakes Overlook and maybe catch a glimpse of sheep or mountain goats all while taking in the view.
Finally, we drive to what seems to be the top of the world – Mt. Evans. Mt. Evans is the highest summit of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. When you reach the summit, you will have traveled through five life zones from high plains to alpine tundra. One of the highest peaks accessible by car, you will have the opportunity to walk to the actual summit and, as the song goes, on a clear day you can see forever.
Please note: The roadway from Echo Lake to Summit Lake and to Mount Evans is above timberline through a series of mountain switchbacks. The panoramic views are breathtaking, but if you have a fear of height and steep drops, the drive may also take your breath away. Please consider this before signing up for the tour.
Participants are strongly encouraged to have acclimated to altitude for at least 24 hours. Bring a jacket as there could be a 30-degree temperature difference between Denver and the higher elevations. Wear appropriate hiking shoes. The first two hikes are relatively flat and mildly strenuous; the hike to the summit of Mt. Evans is short but steep. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a camera are a must.