Lincoln Lake, Echo Lake Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Lincoln Lake - 10.6 miles
Echo Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,707' - 11,624' (11,673' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+917' net elevation gain (+2,140' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Lincoln Lake is located 5.3 miles from Echo Lake Campground in the Mt Evans Wilderness Area. It lies at treeline in a narrow, rocky bowl on the east side of Rogers Peak (13,391') ringed by large boulders, dense willow and ancient bristlecone pine trees.
While the burn areas are ostensibly barren, they’re in fact recovering well and full of life. Fire helps maintain natural tree densities while replenishing soils and clearing space for new growth.
These newly formed alpine meadows are rife with wildflowers, and provide critical grazing habitat for elk. Bighorn sheep and mountain goat were unaffected by the fire, and thrive above treeline throughout the wilderness area.
There are several ways to reach Lincoln Lake, but the most accessible begins at Echo Lake Campground and follows the Resthouse Trail south to the Lincoln Lake Trail. Other routes have seasonal access restrictions, and are partially obstructed by blow-downs related to the fire.
Visitors will enjoy contrastingly healthy and skeletal forests, bristlecone pine stands and good wildlife viewing in these newly opened spaces:
The trail begins in the campground, where you must complete a free wilderness use permit before setting out. The Resthouse Trail climbs steadily in a thick spruce-fir forest to a crest at .95 miles (11,083’), where it drops 563’ in just over a mile to Vance Creek (2.0 miles : 10,520’).
The trail pitches up from the creek on variously moderate, steep and rocky intervals. Travel is pleasant if not uneventful until reaching the Lincoln Lake burn area (4.15 miles : 11,278’).
The trail levels across ghostly hillsides to the Lincoln Lake Trail (4.65 miles : 11,422’). which breaks west through a reconstituting forest up to Lincoln Lake (5.3 miles : 11,624’).
This final segment is rugged and ill-defined as you approach a crest over the lake basin. The way is intuitively followed, even when the trail is not.
Steep walls, boulders and uneven terrain make exploration difficult. High points over the outlet offer the best vantage, and a good place to scan for goats and sheep. While trees are usually scarce at this elevation, bristlecone pine around the lake offer a unique aesthetic.
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N39 39.350 W105 35.671 — 0.0 miles : Echo Lake Campground - Resthouse Trailhead
- N39 39.120 W105 35.122 — .5 miles : Steady climb in healthy spruce-fir forest
- N39 39.021 W105 34.649 — .95 miles : Crest at 11,084', begin drop to Vance Creek
- N39 38.627 W105 34.940 — 1.5 miles : Steep descent to Vance Creek
- N39 38.268 W105 34.790 — 2.0 miles : Cross Vance Creek, begin climb
- N39 37.937 W105 34.733 — 2.5 miles : Quick pace on mild grade
- N39 37.400 W105 34.471 — 3.5 miles : Moderate and rocky intervals
- N39 36.944 W105 34.719 — 4.15 miles : Enter burn area
- N39 36.805 W105 35.181 — 4.65 miles : Lincoln Lake Trail split
- N39 36.942 W105 35.557 — 5.05 miles : Rugged path in reconstituting forest
- N39 37.002 W105 35.771 — 5.3 miles : Lincoln Lake
- The 1968 Lincoln Lake Fire burned 700 acres near the Lincoln Lake - Resthouse Trail junction, including the Resthouse structure. The cause is unknown. The 1964 Resthouse Meadow Fire burned 1076 acres; this fire was caused by humans.
- Water is limited on this trail to Vance Creek and Lincoln Lake. Other sources are seasonal and unreliable.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted on the Resthouse Trail, Lincoln Lake Trail, and within the Mt Evans Wilderness Area.
- Camp at least 100' away from any lake, stream, trail or road. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed backcountry camping, with potential seasonal and elevation restrictions.
- Water is very limited on this route before reaching the lake. Vance Creek is the primary water source, 2.0 miles from the Echo Lake Campground Trailhead.
- When hiking or camping in the Mt Evans Wilderness, one member of each party is required to register at a Mt Evans Wilderness boundary board and carry a copy of the registration with them during their visit. There is no registration fee.
Rules and Regulations
- A hiker from each party must complete and carry with them a self-registration permit for travel within the Mt Evans Wilderness. There is no fee.
- Dogs must be on a hand-held leash at all times in the Mt Evans Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The Resthouse Trail begins within the Echo Lake Campground, 13.5 miles south of Idaho Springs on the Mt Evans Scenic Byway. The campground is located just past the split from Highway 103, before passing through the pay station for Mt Evans.
From I-70, exit #240 and head south on HWY 103 (toward Mt Evans) for 13.4 miles. Veer right onto Highway 105 just past Echo Lake, then make an immediate left into the campground. Day hikers should use designated parking spaces (others are reserved for campers).
Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek Road
P.O. Box 3307
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
South Platte Ranger District
19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465
Monday - Friday, 8 am - 4:30 pm (excluding National Holidays)