Williams Lake, Hell Roaring Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Williams Lake - 3.8 miles
Hell Roaring Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||3.8 miles (see important driving and distance notes)|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,010' - 10,815' (10,831' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+805' net elevation gain (+1,145' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Williams Lake - 3.8 Miles Round-Trip
Williams Lake is located 1.9 miles from Hell Roaring Trailhead on Capitol Creek Road in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. It lies in a heavily wooded basin off the Hell Roaring Trail, which continues west across the Elk Mountains to the Avalanche - Silver Creek Trail outside Carbondale.
Williams Lake famously inspired John Denver's 'Rocky Mountain High' while he was camping at the lake to view the Perseid Meteor Showers which happen every August.
Though Williams Lake lacks the alpine luster of others in the area, it's a great choice for families, anglers, short-distance camping and simply escaping the crowds. Hardscrabble Lake is just .1 mile off the main trail with notably good fishing.
The Hell Roaring Trailhead is located 10.7 miles west of Highway 82 on Capitol Creek Road. Only capable 4WD cars with experienced drivers should attempt to reach this trailhead by car. You may otherwise park at Hay Park (7.8 miles from HWY 82) or Capitol Creek Trailhead (9.5 miles from HWY 82) and walk the road. Good high clearance is necessary beyond Hay Park.
These park-and-walk options add 5.8 and 2.4 miles to the roundtrip hike, respectively. Always call ahead for driving conditions, as this road is subject to washout and deadfall:
The trail rises steadily in a heavy spruce-fir forest to the Hardscrabble Lake Trail split (.28 miles : 10,140'). Hardscrabble is more of a pond than lake, but has excellent fish stock.
The trail continues on short, steep intervals to the Williams Lake Trail split (1.05 miles : 10,460'), which splits north and drops across two bridges spanning a marshy corridor (1.12 miles : 10,405'). It gradually bends NW beside the lake's outlet stream up to Williams Lake (1.9 miles : 10,815').
The lake is ringed by thick timber with limited open space, but many social trails fan through the area to numerous campsites and access points along the shore.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 14.888 W107 03.326 — Hay Park Trailhead Parking
- N39 14.046 W107 04.786 — Capitol Creek Trailhead Parking
- N39 13.866 W107 05.746 — 0.0 miles : Hell Roaring Trailhead
- N39 13.781 W107 05.970 — .28 miles : Hardscrabble Lake spur
- N39 13.621 W107 06.116 — .5 miles : Steady climb in heavy forest
- N39 13.366 W107 06.577 — 1.05 miles : Williams Lake Trail split
- N39 13.412 W107 06.597 — 1.1 miles : Cross two bridges
- N39 13.320 W107 06.942 — 1.5 miles : Steep climb beside creek
- N39 13.345 W107 07.280 — 1.9 miles : Williams Lake (10,815')
- The trail is crossed by deadfall and faint in several places. It may also hold snow longer than others at the same elevation due to heavy tree cover and a north-facing aspect.
- Mosquitoes can be a nuisance on this trail. Repellant and long sleeves are recommended.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. Self-registration permits are available at each trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits issued. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 10 individuals (or 15 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted at Williams Lake, and in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream. Seasonal or location-specific restrictions may also apply.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The Hell Roaring Trailhead is located 10.9 miles west of Highway 82 on Capitol Creek Road. Only capable 4WD cars with experienced drivers should attempt to reach this trailhead by car. You may otherwise park at Hay Park (7.8 miles from HWY 82) or Capitol Creek Trailhead (9.7 miles from HWY 82) and walk the road.
These park-and-walk options add 6.2 and 2.4 miles to the roundtrip hike, respectively.
From Highway 82, turn west on Watson Divide Road in Old Snowmass (at the Conoco Gas Station and Snowmass Ranch Liquor Store).
Travel 1.7 miles to the Snowmass Creek - Capitol Creek Road split and turn right on Capitol Creek. Remain on Capitol Creek Road for 8 miles to Hell Roaring Trailhead. Use Hay Park or Capitol Creek trailheads for alternative parking.
The turn off from Highway 82 is approximately 14 miles west of Aspen and 8.2 miles west of Bush Creek Road in Snowmass Village. Note Capitol Creek Road turns to dirt after 4.7 miles.
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670