The Willow Lake Trail, also called Willow Heights, is perfect for a family hike. It’s beautiful and shady though quaking aspen trees to a lake. There are a few steeper parts, but then it levels out. The trailhead is not very clearly marked. There is a carved rock sign at the trailhead, but it is difficult to see from the road.
There isn’t a parking lot, so you just have to pull up the directions in Google Maps and then park on the side of the road. When you are driving up the canyon, it will be on the left side of the road, but you can park on either side. If you get to Solitude, you’ve gone a few minutes too far.
A couple minutes into the trail, it splits and is the shape of a figure 8, double loop. You can can go in either direction. The left trail is steeper with loose rocks, so that is probably easier to head up, rather than down, but doable both ways. That trail also has some water crossings. If you want the easiest path, skip that path and make the right trail a there and back hike.
The aspen trees throughout this hike are so pretty! I love the fall colors and the summer wildflowers!
Either direction you go, be sure to look through the aspens at the views, especially in the fall.
There are a few times on the left trail that you need to cross over on a log bridge.
When you get to the meadow you have done the larger bottom section of the figure 8.
This is looking up through the meadow towards the lake and then turned around looking back towards the trailhead.
The lake is much closer to the left side trail at this point, so that’s the shorter way. That first photo is looking back towards the meadow.
The trail passes over the water, which is minimal in the fall and you get a sneak peek of the lake.
As you come around the corner you come to the lake. It’s pretty small this time of year, but the I love the golden aspens!
The kids loved seeing the ducks and chipmunk at the lake. It would be a great place to have a picnic!
Moose like to visit this lake. When I was last there I heard a moose bellow from farther up in the trees, but didn’t see any. If you continue around the loop, it goes through the aspens. There are several fallen trees you have to step over.
Here are more photos of those amazing fall leaves!
Stats: Distance – 2.2 mile loop
Approximate hiking time – 2-3 hours
Elevation gain – 551 feet
Difficulty – Moderate
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – At Trailhead
Seasons to hike – April – October (snowshoe in winter)
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – No