It looks like my kind of hike--taking the high route.
Sounds like the access road from Lemon Reservoir can be tedious, but should be doable in an AWD Toyota Rav4?
I'm looking at a ca. 5-day out-and-back into Chicago Basin in mid Sept. I'm crowdophobic, so I've never been to Chicago Basin, but I figure between it being Sept and the train not running to Needleton, it should be OK.
Interesting question, cweston . I've been looking at a possible trip in the same vicinity at almost the same time (mid- to late-Sep). I hadn't taken much note of that Endlich Mesa option, partly because I was looking at train options when I investigated this winter, and partly because I'm out-n-back-phobic. (It seems they didn't lay out CO to accommodate loop-lovers.) Anyway, I'll be interested in what you find out.
I'm also looking at a loopish option to the east of there, probably using the Cimarrona and Williams Creek trailheads.