Hike and a brew : Idaho Springs, Colorado

Idaho Springs has Mount Evans, sparkling lakes, heart-pounding hiking, and the sleek Westbound & Down for your fuel and brew.  

Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs pours colorful brews! ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs pours colorful brews! ©Suzanne Brown 2019

 It’s time for Hike and a Brew in... 

IDAHO SPRINGS

Stunning views at Echo Lake near Mount Evans. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Stunning views at Echo Lake near Mount Evans. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

HIKE - Echo Lake and Chicago Lakes

The drive up to Echo Lake from Idaho Springs is winding fun, full of spectacular mountain views, babbling creeks, thick pines, and the summer-loving creatures known as Colorado road cyclists. When you reach the shimmering lake, jaw-dropping, white-peaked views of Mount Evans and Mount Rosalie greet you.

Below are two options for hikes that begin at the Echo Lake parking area: a short one around Echo Lake and a longer one to Chicago Lakes. The altitude here is 10,600 feet, so bring layers because it’s usually 20-30 degrees cooler than Denver. Try to go early in the summer because storms usually hit before noon, and this park draws a crowd. Fishing allowed. Picnic tables available. Dogs must be leashed.

Echo Lake offers picnicking, fishing, hiking, and views that make your heart happy. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Echo Lake offers picnicking, fishing, hiking, and views that make your heart happy. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

1 -ECHO LAKE TRAIL- 1.3 miles RT Easy, out-and-back around Echo Lake

  • Park at Echo Lake. If coming from Idaho Springs, turn right before the lake and continue down a dirt road to a larger parking area with restrooms. 

  • Follow the trail to the lake, and go right at the lake. 

  • Go left at the trail split (right takes you to the Chicago Lakes Trail), and continue through the lovely pines. 

  • When you reach Echo Lake Lodge (restaurant and gift shop), turn around and return the way you came.

This sign for Chicago Lakes is about half-mile from the Echo Lake parking area. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

This sign for Chicago Lakes is about half-mile from the Echo Lake parking area. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

2-  CHICAGO LAKES TRAIL - 8.5 miles (lower lake) and up to 10 miles (upper lake)  

Heart-pumping with alpine flowers, lakes, waterfalls, meadows, mountain views

  • Park at Echo Lake. If coming from Idaho Springs, turn right before the lake and continue down a dirt road to a larger parking area with restrooms. 

  • Follow the trail to the lake, and go right at the lake. 

  • Go right at the trail split towards the Chicago Lakes Trail.

  • You will hike down an incline, and the trail will turn into the Idaho Springs Reservoir Road before returning to a normal trail.

  • Continue to climb towards Upper Chicago Lake. You will reach the lake at approx. 4.25 miles. Return the way you came for an 8.5 mile RT
    OR continue for another 0.6 miles to Upper Chicago Lake. Return the way you came for an approx. 9.8 mile RT.

Westbound & Down Brewing Company has dog hitchin’ posts for your furry friends. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Westbound & Down Brewing Company has dog hitchin’ posts for your furry friends. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

QUENCH YOUR THIRST -  Westbound & Down Brewing Company


Among the mountain eats and shops in Idaho Springs, you’ll find sleek Westbound & Down brewery and restaurant. Their beer is brewed in stainless steel with water that’s 100% Clear Creek County snowmelt filtered on site. The vibe is rustic and modern, with family style tables, an open bar, and indoor/outdoor seating on two sides where they roll up the garage doors to let in that fresh Colorado air.

The open bar at Westbound & Down. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

The open bar at Westbound & Down. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

The bar serves a variety of beers- IPAs, porters, Hefeweizen, Mexican lager, Belgians, pilsners, stout, and fruited Berliner Weisse- basically a juice box for adults, as well as wine and specialty cocktails. You can also take your favorite beer home in a 64 ounce growler or 32 ounce crowler cans.

Beers out back overlooking Bridal Veil Falls and the water wheel. © Alexa Brown 2019

Beers out back overlooking Bridal Veil Falls and the water wheel. © Alexa Brown 2019

I try a sampler of citrusy Don’t Hassle the HEF, tropical Double IPA, malty Angry Dan Brown Ale, and sweetly-sour Blackberry Sage Saison. The traffic stands still on I-70, and I grin because I know the secret. The Idaho Springs exit. A magical place where I can sip my brew, grab a bite, and gaze at Bridal Veil Falls. No exhaust necessary.

Spring Salad with watermelon radishes. Burger and fries always lurking. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Spring Salad with watermelon radishes. Burger and fries always lurking. ©Suzanne Brown 2019

Be sure and check out their full restaurant menu with specialities like Buffalo Chicken Nachos, Beef Burger with coffee bacon jam (YES, this is divine!), Weinertako (brat & kraut), Falafel sandwich, Chicken & Waffle, and a Fried Green Tomato BLT, as well as house made green chili, sandwiches, salads, and a kids menu. Tired from that I-70 traffic? No worries! The menu will tell you what beer goes best with your grub so you can just relax and enjoy!

Now all you have to do is find that magical exit. Idaho Springs...

Westbound & Down (1617 Miner Street, Idaho Springs, CO) Open daily 11 AM - 10 PM

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