Willow Lake Trail

HARD 25 reviews

Willow Lake Trail is a 8.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Crestone, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2732 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

snow

Deep in the heart of the Sangre De Cristo mountains in southern Colorado, Willow Lake provides a respite for the waters draining the Obstruction Peak glacial trough, as they rush north and west toward the central Colorado basin. If you tee off from the top of Obstruction Peak, Willow Lake is in the center of the dog-leg left, with 500 yard long meadow of Willow Creek Park as the green. The trailhead east of Crestone launches you on a 9-11 mile journey that will take you through forests of fir, arbors of aspen, and skirts of skree. Depending on the time of year you make this trek the streams you encounter along the way will be trickles or torrents. In about 2.5 hours you can climb to the west end of Willow Lake. Add another half hour and tack on a mile to your shoe treads, you can reach the falls at the east end of the lake, which will allow you to see Challenger Pt, Kit Carson Mtn, and Obstruction Peak - just remember to account for the additional time and mileage for the return trip.

hiking
19 days ago

This is a well maintained trail and is somewhat challenging. The steep grade and altitude make this a fantastic workout of the body and mind. This hike has it all sweeping views, streams, waterfalls, and alpine lake, and moss covered forests. We loved it!! Give your self plenty of time as it is a very long 8.6 miles. In fact, I would say it is more like 12 miles out and back. If you go in July, BE PREPARED FOR EPIC MOSQUITOES !! You will need long pants and long sleeves and bug repellent. If you take these precautions you will be fine. We went in shorts and short sleeves and it added a layer of challenge to this hike.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great trail. Well maintained.While the hike is somewhat challenging with a full pack, the abundance of amazing views makes it worth the effort. Views of Willow Lake are a breathtaking reward.

hiking
2 months ago

Excellent hike. A little bit of everything. Challenging but not overwhelming. Beautiful views worth every step!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike with well maintained trail. Made it to the lake in 3 hours.

4 months ago

4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike, but be prepared to put in some work. Did the hike on the 1st and it was pretty hot, so bring enough water for the return trip. Tons of mosquitos the entire way. Fitbit said it was more like 6 miles each way.

backpacking
5 months ago

Such a spectacular place! I suppose difficulty ratings are all dependent on your experience, fitness level and whether or not you're carrying a fully outfitted backpack for overnighting. We hiked up with gear in about 4.5 hours but stopped for photos frequently. This is a really long uphill grind. Mosquitos all along the way, we were saved by Repel Lemon Eucalyptus bug spray (non-Deet). Incredibly beautiful with waterfalls, streams, lake. Saw marmots and pika on the trail above the lake. Highly recommended but be prepared, we were pretty sore by the time we hiked out the next day!

hiking
5 months ago

Incredible views throughout keep you motivated up this great trail! Last bit up gets a bit difficult but worth every breath!

5 months ago

5 months ago

One of the most stunning trails I have hiked ever. Photos are shared. BE WARNED: this trail is longer and steeper than noted. And everyone on the trail today noted this. I would say it's about 6-7 miles to the lower lake (one way). It's about 10 miles (one way) to the upper lake. We set out for a 8.9 mile RT hike, and it ended in a exhausted death march back to the trailhead getting swarmed by mosquitos despite the triple bathing in DEET. I logged 47,890 steps on my Fitbit, ran out of water with 2 miles left (even packed extra), and am the sorest I have EVER been including 14ers. This is best done as an overnight: both for the length and for the wide variety of beautiful scenery to explore. Hike in, set up camp (above the falls would be great to avoid mosquitos), and then enjoy the alpine valley and the second upper Willow Creek Lake or Kit Carson, and Challenger Peak....it's worth it. Doing this as a day hike is doable, just come prepared and know that this is not a moderate day hike, it will be one of the more challenging hikes of your year.

hiking
5 months ago

Gorgeous! A few waterfalls along the way and there are lots of wildflowers right now. It is closer to 10 miles RT to the west side of the lake. Bring good bug spray!

hiking
5 months ago

5 months ago

Fantastic views. Lots of wildlife. Very difficult trail if you are not in shape. Mosquitoes are bad to meadow. Fishing was good.

trail running
5 months ago

Awesome trails! Ran up to Willow Lake and then passed it almost to the summit of Challenger and Kit. Still a little bit of snow and didn't bring hiking sticks or the right shoes. Amazing run overall though!

6 months ago

6 months ago

Great hike...bring insect repellent, we needed it the first 2 miles from trail head start. Saw lots of wildlife and the weather was perfect.

hiking
7 months ago

Snow and high wind up high..need snowshoes to get to lake as there's still 4-6' of snow.

hiking
11 months ago