By Tyler Hesler
Idaho Springs Colorado is known mostly to be a drive by town. A place where you stop to grab lunch or gas while on your way up to the high country. However, what most people don’t know is that this little town has some of the best adventures waiting for you in Colorado! We will stick to hiking for this post, but it is good to know that Clear Creek runs through the Canyon in Idaho Springs and offers world class rafting just outside of Denver. If you are in the area between May and August, we highly recommend hopping on a raft. Also, don’t get us started on the cliff side zipline. It is pretty self explanatory but soar through the trees on the side of the Mount Evans cliff. Anyway, back to the hiking.
Closest 14’er to the front range: Mount Evans
First off Idaho Springs is home to 1 of Colorado’s 58 fourteen thousand foot mountain, Mt. Evans. Just about 15 miles off of I-70 you will run into echo lake and that is the base of the climb to the top of this mountain with unrelenting views for as far as the eye can see.
Lakes: Echo lake is one of the many alpine lakes in the area. It offers very easy flat ground hiking around the lake with some great views of the top of Evans. It is about a half mile walk around the lake, making it a great hike for families. If you are looking for more difficult hikes you should start driving up Mt Evans road. If you drive 10 miles you will run into another alpine lake that offers great hikes around the lake, much like echo but at a much higher elevation so it can literally take your breath away.
Summit: If you are looking for even more difficult hikes you can climb to the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,265 feet above sea level. The hike is only about 7 miles round trip, but there is high elevation gain on the hike and lots of scrambling over big rocks at a very high altitude. Also probably one of the most rewarding hikes in the area.
Driving: One of the best part about Mt. Evans is that you don’t have to hike to get to the top of the mountain. Most 14ers in Colorado only allow access to the summit by foot, but Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in North American. That’s right you can drive to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain in a Honda Civic. Once you are at the top you will have one of the best views in Colorado. You can literally see for miles into the mountains and also into the front range and eastern plains of Colorado.
Wildlife: You also have a very high change to see some really cool animals like Mountain goats, Big horn sheep, Marmots, Elk, Pika, and many more. The sad thing about Mt. Evans road is that it is only open from June to august due to snow.
Prep: Remember if you do decide to go up towards mt Evans, it is going to be much harder to breath when hiking around. Bring lots of water and take breaks.
Beautiful snowfield in Arapaho National Forest: St. Mary’s Glacier
I would recommend checking out St. Mary’s Glacier, which is a nice 1.9 mile hike out and back hike with a big wide trail. This hike is very easy to follow and does not have a lot of elevation gain. After your .75 mile hike you will find a beautiful lake with St. Mary’s Glacier in the background. One of the many Colorado mountains that hold snow almost all year long. Great trail around the lake and is a great spot to lay out in the sun for a few hours.
Enjoy the glacier: Bring a hammock or a fishing pole and relax by the lake with a snow-capped mountain view.
Rocky Mountain road: Berthoud Pass
Berthoud pass is another great area with beautiful views. and pretty easy hiking terrain. Berthoud pass is a mountain road that connects I-70 Idaho Springs to Winter Park Ski Area. If you are on the pass in winter you will most likely see backcountry skiers and snowboarders.
Safety: Hiking above tree line in the winter can be very dangerous due to avalanches, so please make sure you stay safe and travel with someone who is aware of avalanche danger if it is winter.
Hiking: One great thing about Berthoud pass trail head is that it is easy to find and mostly flat, while also offering amazing views!
After your day hikes you can always come back into downtown Idaho Springs and grab a beer from one of our many breweries and restaurants. Some of our favorites include Tommy Knockers Brewery with great food and even better beer. If you are looking for BBQ, then you have got to try Smokin Yards. Lastly, for pizza we recommend Beau Jo’s for Colorado-style pizza. There are so many amazing restaurants and shops, you can just take a nice stroll through town and you will not be disappointed. Idaho Springs has so many good hikes in the area, so if you are looking for some amazing mountain hikes without going too far from Denver, then this is the town for you!