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Needle Creek Trail to Chicago Basin


Climb 7 miles to reach your basecamp in the Chicago Basin.

Hiking Difficult

22 km
1.1 km
1.1 km
6-7 hrs
Low Point
2.5 km
High Point
3.5 km
Needle Creek Trail to Chicago Basin Map

"Located in the heart of the Needle Mountains—deep in the Weminuche Wilderness—lies Chicago Basin. This beautiful valley makes up the headwaters of Needle Creek and is fed by numerous creeks and streams cascading from the peaks and ridges above,” writes HikeArizona.com.


The Needle Creek trail begins on the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness and ascends a narrow mountain valley along the banks of its eponymous creek, all the way to Chicago Basin. This trail is often used as an approach for climbing the four 14ers found in the Needle Mountains. For a detailed backpacking itinerary, dig into the associated guidebook.

The approach trail itself is a relatively easy hike in comparison to the upcoming peak climbing challenge. It’s relatively nontechnical, but you can expect standard rocks, roots, and erosion found on all Colorado wilderness trails. However, it does gain a substantial amount of elevation—about 3,500 feet from the river to the basin. That’s no small feat, meaning that the approach generally takes up most of a day of hiking on its own.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area