6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
"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](https://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=20313).
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.