Explore Westcliffe Area Trails - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Westcliffe Area Trails Map
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camping
1 day ago

Fantastic trail. The mosquitoes weren't bad at all.
Although, in terms of wildlife -the bear is very curious; campers beware

backpacking
1 day ago

Last year in August we backpack to Camanche Lake, spent the night then hiked back out the same way. it was a nice hike and a good trail.

Beautiful! The view from the pass is amazing.

It should be noted that there is no collectable water until the river where you turn off to the lake. Not really a big deal from the 4x4 trailhead, but you'll need to bring a lot if you're coming from the 2wd trailhead.
You don't reach water until mile 5. There is a little trickle on the pass and another on the far side, but neither are very collectable and will probably stop flowing in a few weeks.

My recording said 6.18 miles, 2,599 ft ascent, 438 ft descent on the way to the lake from the 2wd.

Also, there were kind of a lot of people camping in the meadow.

We hiked to Willow Lake and then up to Upper Willow Lake today. Spectacular vistas and wildflowers and Bighorn Sheep were in abundance. It’s more than just a jumping point to 14ers.

hiking
15 days ago

As a 61 year old in not-the-greatest shape, it was truly a tough climb and descent. About 4 hours up and 2 1/2 down. But well worth the effort! Very nice occasional views as you climb, and when you get to the lake it is just stunning.
Recommend walking on trail to the left of the lake and around to the other end if you have time. The views just keep getting better. Did not attempt Challenger Point or the summit. Can only image what it all looks like from there.
Mosquitos were not a problem for us, though there were a few at the campground by the lake.
It hailed for about 45 minutes and got cold in a hurry, then let up for a while, then light rain on the way down. Rain shell and extra layers a huge plus.
No luck on the key and rings which I read about below. But if there's a way to PM me through this site, I could relay more specific directions to someone who is on the trail and at the Willow Lake campground very often.
Very happy we did this hike!!

camping
19 days ago

Wonderful, beautiful hike and well maintained trail. Concur with everone else that its about 5 miles up to the lake. We did this with a 10 and 12 year old with full packs and took us a little over 5 hours to get up. Lots of stops. Bear is still there and very persistent. At the campsite by the lake it's there every evening and followed us down to a campsite about 0.5 miles below the lake. It is very stubborn and persistent. Not aggressive toward people, just wants your food. You must hang everything, between trees and 10 feet up is the best.

Well maintained and challenging trail with great rewards. Lots of wildflowers and wildlife. If camping, definitely bring a bear canister or plan to bear bag it, as there is at least one bear who is playing the part of lingering camp host. Willow Lake is a gem and my sore muscles and feet loved the icy water. Unfortunately, my wife left her wedding rings on a tree branch at camp (first campsite on left, in site below the lake) when applying sunscreen before the long haul down. We discovered this once back at the car. Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.
UPDATE - My wife’s wedding rings were located and are in the process of being returned by the friendly rangers. Thanks for everyone’s help!

hiking
19 days ago

My partner and I are two reasonably in shape folks from Ohio. We did the climb to the lake in about 3 hours, spent about an hour hanging out and a 2 hour descent. It was challenging, but very worth it.

hiking
21 days ago

A lot of work for little reward. Not much of a view on the way up or at the end. Lots of nice trees though!

off road driving
22 days ago

I have a lifted 2004 Jeep Wrangler with Goodyear 33x12.50 MTR tires, and this trail was rough, but absolutely beautiful. I loved it and my wife & daughter did not like it. Do not bring a stock vehicle up this trail.
Robert

backpacking
25 days ago

Bear frequenting the camp area below Willow Lake. Approaches while you're cooking/eating. Doesn't seem to be overly aggressive yet, but bold and habituated to people. Bear has clearly gotten a hold of human food recently.
Please hang all of your food and scented items 10 feet up and 4 feet out. Or bring a bear canister. There are not a ton of trees with ideal branches, but they can be found -- worth the time and effort. Don't leave food unattended.
Day hikers and backpackers should pack out all trash and food leftovers to prevent this bear from being further enticed.
Trail is in great shape and features really good views of the valley and Sangres.

hiking
30 days ago

Great hike but we lost the keys to our Land Rover on the way down. Infinite karma to anyone who finds them and connects back with me.

1 month ago

One of my fav trails. Short drive from town to see alpine views.

backpacking
1 month ago

Epic. Both.

hiking
1 month ago

Great little hike through the trees to the lake. Occasional log and mud puddle obstacle. My 2yo sons hiked it on their own!

Couple muddy stretches near the lakes, otherwise looks like an early summer. Quite a few wildflowers out already. Tons of mosquitoes around the upper lake. When the wind is still, their collective buzzing is surprisingly loud as they blanket your tent.

Road to the 4x4 lot is in really nasty shape. Coming back down it begs for four-low and crawl mode.

off road driving
1 month ago

Beautiful views! Extremely rocky though but worth it.

backpacking
1 month ago

This was my first time backpacking for an overnight camp and it was with a much more experienced backpacker who promised a challenging and beautiful trip.

We debated whether or not to drive from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot. A Subaru employee (We have a 2018 Subaru) happened to be running the trail beside us and told us exactly how to drive it (X-mode and in 1st gear) --- ended up being totally fine (and was also very fun). We picked up another backpacker to get her to the trailhead. Don't attempt that drive if you don't have high clearance; and to be honest probably don't do this trail if you have to hike/backpack from the lower parking lot as a starting point.

We started from the trailhead at about noon, carried in water which made our packs heavy, and stopped for small snacks and breathers 5-6 times before finding camp near the lower lake. The views start to really open up after you pass the red gate. The hike took us about 5 hours and we went very slow, due to our pack weight. The trail is on a moderate incline the the entire time and I wouldn't be surprised to learn 5 hours is a common timeframe for even those hiking in and out same day.

The lakes are gorgeous but smaller than expected, and the three 14'ers surrounding them make up for it many times over. If you have a clear sky like we did it's a big bonus. We didn't go to the upper lake until the morning after we camped --- make sure you go to the upper lake, which offers a better view in my opinion and is a great place to chill out before or after an attempt at Humboldt (Or Crestone Peak or Crestone Needle, if you are a crazy person).

It can get to be 40 degrees, windy, and with a cold ground at late night so make sure you're prepared for that. Don't forget your sleeping bag like I did.

We trekked down at about 4PM the following day and it took about 3 hours to get back down to the upper parking lot. The views as you drive away at that time are awesome.

Great hike! Camped in the valley before the ascent to lower lake

Beautiful up top, easy hike too.

Just gorgeous!

backpacking
1 month ago

it's a easy trail you can runn up with great veiws of the valley and not to many poeple however don't be mislead by the Cairns all around the trail...

hiking
1 month ago

We hiked this trail 5/12/2018 via the Gibson Creek Trailhead and made it to the lower lake. Towards the beginning of the trail, we saw Henry Tjhie, and he told us we wouldn't need our snowshoes. The mud and snow depth then was manageable in boots and there were only a handful of places where we had to walk across snow, many of which are probably melted by now. The frozen waterfall was very neat. Just before the lake, there was a large snow field, and we only sunk into the snow in a few spots. Saw less than 10 people the entire time, so it was very peaceful. The large, wide creek crossing was doable with a couple large logs to walk across, even with all the snow run-off. It was slow going for most of the trail since there are LOTS of downed trees, creating all kinds of obstacles, some of which you have to wander off the trail to go around. Lots of birds in the area. It was neat seeing a ptarmigan once on the way up and once on the way back in about the same spot. It was very windy at the lake, so much that it was creating waves, something we had never seen in the backcountry. We spent a while trying to figure out how to get to the upper lakes. We tried going around on the right side of the lake, but no luck. We did, however, spot a bunch of fish in some of the ponds behind the lake on the right side. We realized later that the trail to the upper lakes goes around on the left side via some logs over part of the lake; the trail was difficult to see because of heavily overgrown bushes. Even though the lake was beautiful and serene, only giving this trail 3 stars because of all the downed trees, difficulty route finding to the upper lakes, and lack of views on the way up.

Very beautiful this time of year! Lake is thawed and hardly any snow

backpacking
2 months ago

Did the full loop. The Natgeo topo (#138 i think) seems to differ from reality in the area where the Venable trail starts. Going up the from the venable trailhead (Not Comanche) there is an unmarked left turn which the map shows leading to the bottom of Venable trail. However, venable trail is actually straight/right about 50 yards up the rocky atv trail, and is well signed. Because of this, we went up Comanche trail and down venable. Comanche trail is completely free of snow until the Phantom Terrace, where there are 2 short sections of incredibly exposed snow at the very top. Looking over the edge of the Phantom terrace from the comanche side, both sections of snow are visible. The First one is avoidable by going up and left (northwest-ish), then down and right to the trail. This is exposed class 3 scrambling and with a pack, very wet and loose, and was sort of scary. The second section is avoidable on the right side, but you have to basically walk on the edge of the ledge. After this, the trail is in pretty rough shape until the intersection where you turn to go to Venable lakes. Lots of little wash outs, unavoidable scree piles, and loose rock. You could fall a few hundred feet if you lost it on one of these little obstacles. Everything below venable lakes is free of snow, but there are tens of downed trees in the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

This was the best alpine lake payoff of any trail I've done. We did it early in the season so the mosquitos weren't bad yet. As others have said, the first set of switchbacks are the hardest and the ones on the rock scree were the windiest. I'm out of shape and my wife is 4 months pregnant - our total time was 7.5 hours, 5.5 of moving time. 10.1 miles total. We saw some bighorn sheep on our way down and also swear we heard a moose, though not to be seen.

hiking
2 months ago

Willow Lake was a beaut. No need for any type of traction. Lake is completely thawed and there was a huge trout in the stream below the lake. Bringing the rod next time! RT took 7 hours with a long break at the lake and lots of stops for photos. Garmin watch clocked 12 miles RT but we dink around a lot.

hiking
2 months ago

I went up to the lake a couple days ago 5-4-18. I took the regular route (not swift creek, the signage is not so confusing once you understand there are 2 routes up to lake of the clouds) There was a fair amount of waist deep snow drifts 1/2 way up, it took me 4 hours, but I believe it will be "ready" or normal within a few weeks. BTW saw 2 bears right below the snow line (they were not aggressive at all) bring protection if hiking alone or in a small group. I didn't see another person the whole hike, true solitude. The last half is all snow but totally doable if you have the patience, seems to be rapidly melting.

lost our dog Lindsey. trained pitbull grey with white belly with stand up ears and was wearing a brown jacket. if found please post a comment saying she's found

hiking
3 months ago

Day hiked to this gem last week with the pooch. 200 yard wide, 100' tall ice waterfalls were a site to behold. Microspikes a must in upper third of trail. Worth every step with rewards starting at meadows within first couple miles on up. Would be a nice place to basecamp with nice views if Kit Carson if one were looking to do an overnighter right now.

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