Willow Lake Trail FS865

Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area, Colorado

Elevation Gain3,283ft
Trailhead Elevation8,879ft
Elevation Min/Max8879/11661ft
Elevation Start/End8879/8879ft

Willow Lake Trail FS865

Willow Lake Trail (FS865) is a hiking trail in Saguache County, Colorado. It is within Rio Grande National Forest and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area. It is 4.4 miles long and begins at 8,879 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,283 feet. Near the trailhead there are parkings. Along the trail there are camp sites. This trail connects with the following: Challenger Peak Route and South Crestone Trail (FS860).

Willow Lake Trail (FS865) Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado (Falcon Guides)
Susan Joy Paul
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"Willow Lake Trail is popular with mountain climbers seeking access to 14,081-foot Challenger Point, 14,165-foot Kit Carson Mountain, and numerous 13,000-foot peaks in Colorado’s Saguache and Custer Counties. Mountain springs and Willow Creek supply thirsty hikers with plenty of water for filtering, and fuel six waterfalls along the trail."
Hiking Colorado's Sangre de Cristos and Great Sand Dunes (Falcon Guides)
Jason Moore, Revised by Lee Hart
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"A difficult trail to a very scenic lake and access to Mount Adams, Challenger Point, and Kit Carson Mountain."
Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"This is one of the most popular hikes on the western side of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area. For me, the thing that makes it so special is a magnificently situated waterfall that plunges 150 feet into the eastern side of Willow Lake. The best time to photograph this picture-perfect scene is in the late afternoon when the sun is low in the west. If you are fortunate enough to be there at that magical late afternoon moment when the lake is in shade but the fall is still in full sunlight, and when the water is calm, you will be treated to a prize-winning view of the fall’s reflection off the lake. It is rare, however, for the water to be calm at that time of day. Another reason people are drawn to Willow Lake is that it is a popular staging area for the assent of Kit Carson Peak (14,165 ft.) and Challenger Point (14,081 ft.). Both of these fourteeners, along with Columbia Point (13,980 ft.) are located on the ridge directly above the south side of the Willow Creek drainage."

Willow Lake Trail (FS865) Trip Reports

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Absolutely stunning! This hike is well worth the effort!

Willow Lake Trail (FS865) Photos

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Trail Information

Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area
Rio Grande National Forest, (719) 852-5941, www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande; Saguache Ranger District, (719) 655-2547; Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area, www.wilderness.net
Local Contacts
DeLorme Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 71 E5 and E6; USGS Colorado Quad Maps: Crestone, Crestone Peak
Local Maps

Trail Log