Echo Lake, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Denver Area -

" />

Echo Lake is one of the Denver metro area’s most popular Mountain Parks. Located only an hour west of Denver, Echo Lake Park is the only sub-alpine park in the Mountain Park system. Its focal point is 24-acre Echo Lake, only a quarter of a mile up the path from the parking lot. Shallow Echo Lake is stocked yearly with rainbow trout and is a favorite spot for fly fishermen enjoying a short, warm-weather hike. Because the 10,600-foot elevation is cooler than lower elevations, it can be a welcome relief from the heat on a hot summer day-and downright chilly when the sun isn’t shining!

Most visitors to Echo Lake arrive via the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, considered the highest paved road in North America. The road is only open during the warmer months along its full length which ends at 14,130 feet near Summit Lake Park. A quarter-mile trail from the end of the road reaches the summit of Mt. Evans and offers fantastic views over thousands of acres of peaks and wilderness within Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Many visitors opt to stop at Echo Lake Park and take the short walk to lovely Echo Lake. Surrounded by subalpine, bristlecone and limber pine, the little lake is filled by snow melt and natural precipitation and has no permanent outlet. A walking path around the lake is a relatively easy three-quarter-mile hike and offers beautiful views of Mt. Evans reflected in the lake’s surface. The wetland at the east end of the lake provides shelter for small wildlife and birds.

A small primitive campground at Echo Lake Park is operated by the Forest Service. Because the campground will only accommodate up to eleven RVs and seven tents, reservations are recommended. The campground is officially open from June through August. Vault toilets and hand-pumped drinking water offer the few amenities, along with picnic tables, grills, campfire rings and firewood. The campground is past Echo Lake near the 1920’s-built Echo Lake Lodge, a seasonal ‘Visitor’s Center’ facility that offers a restaurant and souvenirs. The parking lot at the west end of Echo Lake features a stone picnic shelter built around 1930.

Exploration within the 616-acre Echo Lake Park is available, with the parking lot the beginning point for several more extensive hiking trails in the area. The Chicago Lakes Trail starts here, with the trail leading to the summit of Mt. Evans connecting to it. Other trails beginning at Echo Lake include the Lincoln Lakes Trail and the trail leading to Summit Lake Park. Self-issued permits are required of those planning an extended hike into Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. Many of these trails begin easily, leading to more difficult sections as the elevation increases. Cycling fans often pedal the distance between Echo Lake Park and Summit Lake Park early in the season-after the Mount Evans Scenic Byway has been plowed free of snow and before it is opened to cars. This is a ride for the physically fit, because the 3500-foot gain in elevation is difficult in this high altitude.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway reaches the tree line about three miles south of Echo Lake Park, with the rest of the journey surrounded by alpine tundra. The boundary between the two zones holds the Walter Pesman Alpine Garden containing most of the area’s ancient bristlecone pines. A moderately difficult alpine trail offers the best views of these magnificent ancient survivors and a complete picture of the harsh environment they thrive in. Nearer Summit Lake Park, fields of tiny alpine flowers bloom in the short summer between July and mid-August. Numerous walking paths allow visitors to see the rare blooms up close, as long as they don’t step off the marked trails which can damage the fragile environment. The summit of Mt. Evans holds the University of Denver’s Meyer-Womble Observatory, until late 2000 the earth’s highest. The upper reaches of the Byway are one of the best places to observe native mountain goats. No visitor to Echo Lake Park can miss the last 14 miles of the scenic byway and call their visit complete.

Although Echo Lake Park belongs to the Denver Mountain Parks system, many visitors will enjoy a side trip to the old mining town of Idaho Springs, where the Mount Evans Scenic Byway begins. Although there is little in the way of gold mining continuing today, remnants of the gold miners’ heyday remain in the buildings, attractions and history of the area. Tourists can still pan for gold at both the Phoenix Gold Mine and the Argo Gold Mine and Mill. Now a commercial resort, historic Indian Hot Springs is still open to visitors, and includes natural hot mineral baths and spa treatments. A variety of lodgings are available in and around Idaho Springs, with a number of resort-style options to pamper weary trekkers when they return from a day or two of hiking the trails at Echo Lake.

Opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation abound in the Idaho Springs area: whitewater rafting, horseback riding, cross-country and downhill skiing, mountaineering and ATV riding. Idaho Springs is a location geared toward outdoor adventure, filled with scenic vistas and an invigorating mountain atmosphere. If staying at a local campground or guest ranch doesn’t suit you long-term, a few properties are usually available for sale on the outskirts of the national forests and the extensive Mountain Park system. So come and visit beautiful Echo Lake, drive the scenic byways, and enjoy the many adventures awaiting at Idaho Springs.

Things to do at Echo Lake CO

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Echo Lake CO

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Echo Lake CO Photo Gallery

Echo Lake CO Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 24 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 10,600 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

Spread the word! Share our Echo Lake CO article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.