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Backpacking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Willow Lake Trail

Average Time: 1 - 2 Days
Beginning Elevation: 9,580 Feet (2986.3 Meters) Maroon Lake
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 3,020 Feet (941.4 Meters)
Elevation Gain, Round Trip: 3,825 Feet (1192.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,795 Feet (3676.7 Meters) Willow Lake
High Point: 12,600 Feet (3927.7 Meters) Willow Pass
Length, One-way: 6.5 Miles (10.83 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 128 Maroon Bells, Redstone, Marble
Ti Topo Maps: 128
Trail Number: 1975 and 1978
Usage: Very Heavy
USGS Maps: Maroon Bells

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

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.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: May through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail at high elevations.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche danger and hypothermia. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:39:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Around Crater Lake and Willow Lake, camp in designated spots only .
ICON Cold Water Fishing Maroon & Willow Lakes. No fish in Crater Lake.
ICON Hiking & Walking Maroon-Snowmass Trail #1975 and Willow Lake Trail #1978
ICON Horseback Riding Maroon-Snowmass Trail #1975 and Willow Lake Trail #1978

Related Activities
West Maroon Portal Trailhead - The West Maroon Portal provides access to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The Maroon Creek and Maroon-Snowmass Trails start from here.

West Maroon Trail - This trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area. Hikers, backpackers and horse travelers enjoy the wildflowers and access to the wilderness areas.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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