Willow Lake #1978

ALERT: Due to recent bear activity, bear canisters are required for all backpackers in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

The trail starts at Maroon Lake and follows lakeside until it climbs on rocky paths through the aspens to a rock “garden” before it descends to Crater Lake. At Crater Lake the trail forks to the right and climbs steeply through aspen and spruce forest to Minnehaha Gulch. A stream divides the gulch in half with campsites available before and after the stream crossing. The trail continues its steep ascent exiting the gulch into an alpine meadow with Buckskin Pass looming ahead. Camping is prohibited in the meadow. A trail sign for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake Junction appears in another 1/2 mile. Take the right fork. Follow the trail which traverses the hillside then switchbacks steeply into a basin where Willow Pass looms ahead. Another series of steep switchbacks leads to the top of the pass and provides a view of Willow Lake off to the right. Willow Lake is about 1-1/2 miles farther.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: During the summer season, access to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area is restricted during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Please refer to Restrictions and Fee Description for more details.
Fees: The Maroon Bells Scenic Area is a recreation fee area; there is a mandatory fee. Visitors wanting to visit the Bells during the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. will need to take the bus from Aspen Highlands (few exceptions apply**). You may park your vehicle for free at Aspen Highlands Village Parking Lot and travel via RFTA bus up the Maroon Valley. Vehicles visiting outside of the bus operating hours can access with a $10.00 recreation use fee* ** Exceptions to the motorized vehicle restriction * Vehicles with people with disabilities or with a valid Handicap placard or license plate * Vehicles with 11 people or more * Vehicles with infants that require a restraining child seat (not a booster seat) * Campers at Silver Bar, Silver Bell & Silver Queen Campgrounds * Holders with Special Use Permits issued by the Forest Service * Overnight Backpackers * Horse trailers
Permit Info: Each party overnighting in the MaroonBells-Snowmass Wilderness is required to self-register at the Trailhead and to carry a copy of the registrationwith them during their visit. There is no fee charged and no limit to the number of permits issued.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: The Willow Lake Trail is within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Please, educate yourself on these rules and other Wilderness Ethics:* DOGS MUST BE LEASHED.* Limit group sizes to 10 people and 15 stock/pack animals.* SANITATION - bury human waste 100 feet from water and 6 inches in the soil.
Closest Towns: Aspen

General Information

Directions: Located 10 miles southwest of Aspen, Colorado, on Maroon Creek Road. From Highway 82 take the Maroon Creek Road exit at the roundabout on the West edge of town. Follow Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells Welcome Station. Coming to Aspen via Independence Pass: Take Highway 82 West from downtown Aspen 1 mile to the roundabout (rotary). From the roundabout, take Maroon Creek Road 4.7 miles to the Maroon Bells Welcome Station. You will pass Aspen High school and Aspen Highlands Ski Area on the way to the Maroon Bells Welcome Station, Independence Pass (Highway 82) is normally open from Memorial Day through mid-October, weather dependant. If you are planning an event during these times, please call the Colorado Department of Transportation Hotline for road updates at (877) 315-7623. Coming to Aspen via Glenwood Springs: Take Highway 82 for 40 miles to the roundabout (rotary). From the roundabout, take Maroon Creek Road 4.7 miles to the Welcome Station.

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  Area/Length : 
6.5 miles one-way(10.5 km one-way)

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
9,580 feet (2920 m) - 12,600 feet (3840 m)