When Denver began building the Squaw Pass Road in 1918, they envisioned a ‘skyline drive to the summit of Mount Evans.’ The City also acquired Echo and Summit Lakes in the hope that this ‘scenic wonderland without peer’ would become the gateway to a new national park that the City was proposing to Congress. The ‘Denver National Park’ was never designated, but the move forged a long-term relationship between Denver and the United States Forest Service to build the highway to the peak.
The 616-acre Echo Lake Mountain Park has a natural lake at 10,600 feet in the valley at the base of Goliath Peak surrounded by a thick spruce-fir forest. A steep portion of the park lies across Highway 103. Echo Lake is the only Mountain Park within the subalpine zone. It’s eastern edges are characterized by a large complex of subalpine wetland and shrub riparian vegetation. Portions of this wetland may be a 10,000-year-old fen—a sensitive and irreplaceable resource (that is closed to public use). The lake is part of the Echo Lake Potential Conservation Area and has high biodiversity significance for its rare and globally vulnerable subalpine plants, including reflected moonwort, Mingan’s moonwort, and western moonwort.
The Echo Lake Lodge, a log building completed in 1927, sits majestically on the eastern shore of the lake overlooking a spectacular subalpine setting. Echo Lake Lodge was designed for visiting overnight guests, complete with sleeping rooms, a fireplace lounge, and dining room. Today, the lodge serves as a seasonal gift shop and restaurant with lodging only for the concessionaire and employees.
Echo Lake Park, at 10,600 ft (3,230 m), represents the subalpine ecosystem, with surrounding forests of Englemann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, and Limber Pine. The 24-acre (10 ha) 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.