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Chinns Lake, Colorado


I hate being cooped up for too long. It got that way last week so we decided to go on a short backpacking trip to Chinns Lake. A quality 4x4 is needed in order to make it to the reservoir and since I do not have one at the moment we had to walk. I took the little Chevy Aveo up the 4x4 trail as far as it would go (gets pretty hairy - won't be doing it in the car again) and then we got out to start walking.

Chinns Lake Trip Report

Distance: 4 miles (round trip)
Elevation: 11,395 (1,045 foot gain)
Difficulty: Medium (steep, but short)

The road was basically nothing but uphill curves and switchbacks for the offroad vehicles - not the most scenic route I've ever been on. Even though it wasn't far to the destination it was still fairly rough on me. We set out Saturday afternoon and when we arrived at the lake we found that there were a lot of people already there. It didn't feel crowded crowded, but there certainly wasn't a whole lot of room for new comers either. This spot is a very popular location with very few camp sites. 

Chinns Lake itself was very very low. You can see that the water's edge is normally 15-20 feet further out and several feet higher. Sherwin Lake right above Chinns seemed to be quite full, however. I fished Chinns with my fly rod and ended up getting some STRONG bites and one nice, and powerful!, brook trout. Because of the low water and large amounts of food I brought I released him and fished for another hour or two. Some more bites (they really wrecked my flies when they hit) but no more successful hook-ups. Was fun and very pretty out there though.

The weather was pretty nice as well. It would get colder/warmer depending on what the clouds were doing, but overall it was quite comfortable during the day. In the sun it was certainly warm, but it is summer after all. I did see a couple patches of snow along the trail once you got to the lake. Almost all the snow is melted with just a couple tiny patches left. It looks like Slater Lake should be accessible also.

Next time I think we will set out with more of a plan as it is hard to prepare for a trip when you have never been to the location before. This trip was kind of a last minute decision and while it turned out well it would have been nice to have had more time. I'd like to make a try for Slate Lake up there one of these days. Starting the hike in the cool morning might not be a bad idea either, or getting a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

(check the photos section for pictures & maps)

Here is a video from our 2016 trip four years later:

July 5th, 2012

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