Mount Evans is one of Colorado’s 14ers, and it is accessible via a 14-mile drive that starts at 10,600-foot Echo Lake and ends very near the summit at 14,140 feet. Managed by the Forest Service and finished in 1930, this is the highest paved road in the country. Some people bike up the road, but most drive, and visitors can enjoy several beautiful hikes along the way. With great views of glacial lakes, alpine flowers, and wildlife, it makes for a wonderful day adventure –but be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Check weather and road conditions, and prepare for cooler temperatures even if the weather is sunny and warm at the base.
The Mount Goliath Natural Area, 3 miles up the road from the fee station, offers great interpretive displays of the local flora and history of the area. It also provides access to the Pesman Trail, an easy 2.5-mile round-trip hike with some 700 feet of total elevation gain. This hike passes through a bristlecone pine grove containing some of the oldest trees in Colorado, some over 1,500 years old. The trail crosses the tree line and ends at the Upper Mount Goliath area.
Six miles up the road is Summit Lake, a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by tundra at 12,820 feet. A short hike to the north end of the lake offers wonderful views of the Chicago Lakes. It is also possible to hike up to the summit from there.
The last 5 miles are probably the best area in the country to observe wild mountain goats, and you may also see big horn sheep, marmots, and pikas. Although mountain goats are not native to Mount Evans, they were introduced in the 1960s and have since reproduced and called this place home. The summit is a half-mile round-trip hike from the end of the road.