Explore the most popular hiking trails near Crestone with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
6 days 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
10 days 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.

backpacking
20 days ago

Climbed Crestone Needle in Sep 2015. Well maintained trail from trailhead to base camp at alpine lakes at base of needle. Lord of the rings style mountain in this area. Absolutely beautiful.

hiking
1 month 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.

Great Easter hike. Great earlier season hike. Recommend microspikes from half way point on. Scenic rewards abound in last 20% of trail. Had lake all to ourselves and basked in its glory!

backpacking
1 month ago

This is a tough hike at the beginning but once you’ve gotten past the switchbacks it’s pretty easy going to the lake. Leave early the weather can turn without warning and the wind really picks up around 2pm.

hiking
2 months ago

I did a one-day ascent and descent from trailhead to Kit Carson's summit, going over Challenger in between. It was a tough but rewarding hike! The slopes of Challenger are a little slippery in places and somewhat grueling. Be careful. Trekking poles help. When I was there late summer 2017, Rocky Mountain Field Institute was building a better trail up Challenger, so it might be better now. If you continue to Kit Carson, make sure when descending to come down the same way you went up, as it is very easy to miss the avenue and go too far down. There are cairns marking a trail that apparently goes over to Columbia Point. The upper part of this trail is tempting and will lead you astray. I and many other parties have made this mistake.

This is a gorgeous hike, one of the best in the area. I hiked it on a one-day ascent and descent of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak, and so didn't have time to explore the area around Willow Lake much. I want to return to do some more photography in the area. Well worth the hike!

hiking
2 months ago

You can’t get to this trail without a 4 wheel drive truck. The road gets too bad.

This trail was awesome. The views were incredible a little cold but we hiked it in December no big deal. The top of the trail was definitely the hardest! If you are trying to come in the winter make sure you prepare for some cold weather and high winds up top! Loved it overall.

hiking
5 months 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.

Beautiful! Only moderately hard as well, though we didn't go all the way up...

backpacking
7 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
7 months ago

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

hiking
8 months ago

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

backpacking
10 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
10 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
10 months ago

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

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
10 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!

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

trail running
11 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!

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
Saturday, May 13, 2017

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

backpacking
Sunday, December 18, 2016

Saw more people than expected but a great trail! Take a fishing pole and hope you will get bite, smart fish. Didn't pack water, just a life straw as there are so many streams in the warm months! We did this as a backpacking trip, pack light as the switchbacks make it difficult. We stayed overnight in August and it went as smoothly as planned, except the hail! Great trip!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Great views and awesome climb to lake, but pitch to peak was horribly marked over very loose footing and spent an hour using hands and feet!

Monday, April 13, 2015

beautiful trail and easy to get to the trail head, crestone is an interesting hippy commune. we went mid april and we were not able to get to the lake becasue of the snow. the trail on the way up was beautiful though. great views of the san luis valley as you ascend and you pass pretty meadows and see beauitful waterfalls. sad we werent able to make it to the lake

on Willow Lake Trail

trail running
Saturday, May 24, 2014

Excellent trail running. I encountered lots of snow at the top this early in the season. Plan on getting your feet wet if you are running as there are lots of creeks to cross and snow to scramble up. I got a late start so was alert for signs of the weather changing. About a quarter of a mile from Willow Lake spotted some grey clouds moving in from the east and high-tailed it back to the trailhead. I made it back just in time for hail to drop. Respect the high country!

hiking
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wow what a beautiful trail! Crestone is such a spiritual place and you will feel it as you meander through this beautiful mountain forest along the ice cold creek. Plenty of interesting things to discover along the way - a bridge someone made out of logs, lots of little caves and crannies in the mountain, waterfalls and a breathtaking view of an Aspen forest once you get higher up. The trail is moderately challanging but well worth it. If you find it to be difficult, just take your time and rest after the more challanging climbs because there are plenty of flats and downhills as well! Highly recomend this trail!

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