- 616.3 acres, acquired 1920
- Forests of subalpine fir, limber pine, bristlecone pine
- Denver’s only subalpine park (at 10,600 ft)
- Historic Echo Lake Lodge (1926)
- Historic stone picnic shelter (built about 1924)
- Natural 24-acre lake formed by glacial moraine
- Hiking trail around lake
- Links to Forest Service trail system
- Fishing access along shoreline
- On the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
Echo Lake Park, at 10,600 ft (3230 m), represents the subalpine ecosystem, with surrounding forests of Englemann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, and Limber Pine. The 24-acre lake is popular for fishing and reflects wonderful views of Mt. Evans. The fen (wetland) at the east end of the lake provides important wildlife habitat; visitors are requested to stay on nearby trails.
Trails from Echo Lake Park connect to the Chicago Lakes and Bear Track Lakes trails, accessing the Mount Evans Wilderness Area and the summit of Mt. Evans.
Echo Lake was private property surrounded by National Forest lands before it was purchased by Denver in 1920. The natural lake was created in the Late Pleistocene at the base of Goliath Peak when glacial moraine deposits blocked the outlet of the depression in which the lake now lies. The east end of the shallow lake has partially filled with sediments and wetland vegetation; this fen contributes to the lake’s hydrologic regime and is considered an important habitat and sensitive area.
One of the early efforts of the Mountain Parks program was to complete the Squaw Pass Road from Bergen Park to Echo Lake. This work required, in the end, the combined efforts and funds of the State of Colorado, the City of Denver, and the USDA Forest Service. It was completed by 1920. In the late 1920s, work continued on the high-altitude road to Summit Lake and the top of Mt. Evans.
Echo Lake Lodge, built in 1926, was “octagonal with walls composed of peeled, saddle-notched logs which extend beyond the corners of the building. The roof was low-pitched and featured four dormers and a center stone chimney… the building was planned to provide accommodations to Denver Mountain Park visitors,” according to the 1994 National Register nomination. The initial construction of the lodge cost $17,674, with an addition in 1927 that cost $10,432. Today it houses a gift shop and restaurant.
In the 1940s, Echo Lake was used for a time as a base for military training at high altitudes. Troops from Buckley Field conducted alpine maneuvers on the treeless slopes of nearby Mt. Evans.
Location and Facilities:
Echo Lake Park is 47 miles west of Denver. Take I-70 to Idaho Springs; Exit 240 (Hwy 103) 14 miles to Echo Lake, on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Alternatively, from Echo Lake, Highway 103 (Squaw Pass Road) returns to Bergen Park, creating a loop drive that connects to the Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway.
Facilities in the park include charcoal grills, picnic areas, trail around lake. Echo Lake Lodge, open seasonally May through September, includes a restaurant and gift shop (303.567.2138).
Location and Facilities:
For information about Mount Evans, contact Clear Creek Ranger District at 303.567.2901 or visit the Mount Evans Scenic & Historic Byway website. The Forest Service recently opened a new interpretive center at the Mt. Goliath Bristlecone Pine area, about six miles from Echo Lake.
The U.S. Forest Service charges an access fee for use of services along Mount Evans Road (Hwy 5), including Summit Lake Park. Denver’s share of the fees collected supports maintenance and improvements at Summit Lake Park.
The Denver Mountain Parks system is on the National Register of Historic Places as a multiple properties listing. All parks are considered natural areas, and all wildlife and plants are protected and preserved.