- Clear Creek County
Ownership: None Listed
Description: Nowhere else on the continent can you drive as high as the end of the Mt. Evans toll road. Check the forests on the way up for any and all high-elevation species, including Williamson"s Sapsucker, and check the rocky areas around Summit Lake for Brown-capped Rosy-Finch (a decent spot for the species in summer). White-tailed Ptarmigan is around, but hard to find. Concentrate your search around the switchbacks above Summit Lake.
The Echo Lake Lodge at the base of the Mt. Evans toll road has some very productive hummingbird feeders, which in the late summer can have Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Calliope Hummingbirds, plus an occasional Black-chinned Hummingbird. Rare species have been reported from here, so keep an eye out! The extensive willow habitat here has Lincoln"s, Fox, White-crowned, and Brewer"s Sparrows, plus MacGillivray"s and Wilson"s Warblers, and the spruce forests can have sapsuckers and an occasional Three-toed Woodpecker. A Boreal Owl spent one winter here, so even that is not out of the question!
The Chicago Creek road leaves the Mt. Evans road a few miles south of Idaho Springs and leads up to the Chicago Creek trailhead, providing access to some excellent willow, aspen, ponderosa and lodgepole habitats. Look for both sapsuckers, various Empidonax flycatchers, and Cassin"s Finch. If you are in condition to hike to the end of the trail, you will find vast expanses of treeline willows with Fox Sparrows galore. Rosy-Finches have occasionally been seen in winter at feeders along this road.
Habitat: Stream, Cliff Face, Streamside Willow, Aspen Grove, Foothills Scrub, Ponderosa Forest, Lodgepole Forest, Spruce-Fir Forest, Krummholz, Alpine Tundra
Directions: The Mount Evans Highway (CO 103) heads south from I-70 at exit 240 in Idaho Springs. The Chicago Creek road (FR 188) keeps going straight when the highway bends left in its first major hairpin curve, about six miles from Idaho Springs. The Echo Lake Lodge is another few miles up the road, near the junction where Highway 103 veers off downslope and Highway 5 takes over the job of finishing the climb. Highway 5 is closed except in late summer; a fee is charged for access when the road is open. Summit Lake is on the west (right) side of Highway 5 about five miles above the visitorï¿½s center and about two miles below the peak.