This trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area. Hikers, backpackers and horse travelers enjoy the wildflowers, views and access to the wilderness areas. There is fishing in Willow Lake. Camping at Willow Lake can get very crowded.
The trail starts at the Maroon Lake parking area (9,580 ft). Follow the trail on the north side of the lake through a meadow to a Forest Service informational bulletin board. The right trail is the Maroon-Snowmass Trail which climbs through the aspen trees to Crater Lake (10,076 ft). Take the right fork at the Crater Lake bulletin board. The trail ascends steeply into Minnehaha Gulch. About 1/2 mile above tree line is the Maroon-Snowmass & Willow Lake Trail junction. Take the right fork and ascend steeply to the top of Willow Pass (12,690 ft). From the top of the pass, the trail descends to the junction of the East Snowmass Trail. Continue straight on the trail for the last 1/2 mile to the lake (11,795 ft). The best campsites are below the lake in the trees. It is 6 1/2 miles one-way and the average hiking time is 1-2 days. The trail is considered difficult and receives heavy use.
Willow Lake is in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, so please educate yourself about Wilderness Ethics and rules.
Directions from Aspen: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left onto Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout. Keep right and continue 9 1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake Parking Area.From mid-June through September, the Maroon Creek Road is closed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and you will need to take a shuttle bus from Ruby Park in Aspen. The bus includes an informative guided tour of the valley. Contact the Roaring Fork Transit Agency at 925-8484 for more information.
May through September
(NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail at high elevations.)