asian girl in purple at mt evans sign colorado

Hike an Easy 14er: Mount Evans 14,267 ft via Summit Lake

HIKE TO: Mount Evans 14,267 ft & Mount Spalding 13,848 ft
TRAIL: Mt Evans Trail/ West Ridge
TRAILHEAD: Summit Lake
MILES: 2.7 miles one way
TIME: 2:45 hr
DATE I WENT: 8/17/22 
DIFFICULTY: easy-moderate
HIKE PERMIT: no, but timed entry reservations are currently required
LOCATION: Mount Evans Wilderness Area, Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

Advance reservations are currently required to enter Mount Evans Recreation Area – get your Summit Lake Park ticket on

There are two 14ers in Colorado you can literally drive right up to: Mount Evans and Pikes Peak. So why hike to Mount Evans from Summit Lake instead of driving right up?

The quick answer: it’s a short, beautiful, easy hike, and you get to summit a 13er on the way. But really, if you’ve been enjoying the scenic drive thus far, it’ll be good to get out and stretch your legs with a nice little hike and enjoy some other views you won’t get from the drive-up summit.

The trailhead elevation at Summit Lake is 12,850 ft so even though the hike to Mount Evans summit is only 2.7 miles one-way with not much elevation gain, it can still be a slow-going hike if you’re coming from a low elevation. Honestly, the altitude kicked my butt a little right from the start.

From the parking lot, you’ll see the trail starting up on the West Ridge across from Summit Lake. Follow the obvious trail until you gain the ridge. Don’t let the term “ridge” scare you – it’s very wide and flat up there – more like hiking on the top of a hill than a real exposed ridgeline.

The trail is not well marked with signs but look for cairns as there is a somewhat used trail there to follow. It helps to have a GPS track downloaded to follow and know a bit of route finding, but once you get to the ridge on the top of the hill, the trail is easy to follow.

Bonus 13er Peak: Summit Mount Spalding 13,848 ft on the way

There is a goat trail on the left side of the mountain but make sure you hike the proper trail on top of the ridge crest for an easier hike. The hike is entirely exposed above the tree line. Mount Spalding is 1.12 miles and 1013 ft of elevation gain from the trailhead at Summit Lake. You can also choose to just bag this peak and head back if you don’t feel like continuing on… then drive to the summit of Mt. Evans.

From Mount Spalding, the trail drops downhill just a little bit before you enter the boulder field to the summit of Mount Evans. There’s a used trail and cairns to guide the way along this class 1-2 section but be mindful of your surroundings – a boulder came down on a hiker’s hand who we passed on the trail.

You will know when you are on the summit of Mount Evans – it’s the one with the crowds. You’ll see the observatory, road, and parking lot as you approach the few switchbacks leading to the summit.

girl in purple sitting at mt evans summit looking at summit lake
Summit of Mount Evans 14,267 ft looking down at Summit Lake and Parking Lot

Shop My Gear List for this Easy Hike to Mt. Evans 14,267 ft.

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comment section below. & Please don’t forget to practice Leave No Trace.

Hiking the Colorado 14ers? You may be interested in climbing the Maroon Bells

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