Hope Pass via Willis Gulch Trail is a challenging climb that will test your strength & breathing! An incredible trail that takes you far above treeline to views beyond your expectations. One of Colorado’s exceptional hikes!


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Not far from Twin Lakes, CO on Hwy 82 is the trailhead for Willis Gulch Trail which is a popular starting point for the hike to Hope Pass. We arrived early and found the trail to ourselves. First, hiking over the bridge and into an emerald green marshy wonderland. Beaver ponds and stepping stones lead the way.



Until coming to a signpost about a 1/2 mile in which was full of options. Only 4 1/2 miles to Hope Pass! Little did we know that a 4 1/2 mile lung buster awaited us.



Peaceful, shady, and gorgeous forests of aspens and pines take us up 1 3/4 miles. I can hear rushing waters somewhere ahead.




Crossed another bridge and marveled at the waterfall cascading beneath us.




Here we are at the connection to the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) and CT (Colorado Trail) which will take us to the top of Hope Pass. So excited!




Ok, so my breathing is labored, my heart is racing yet I can’t stop moving as we near our destination. However, we did stop along the way to take in areas of old mine remnants.



After hiking through wildflower-filled meadows I can sense we are almost breaking treeline. AND, wow, the views ahead are mind-boggling. They come at you suddenly and take a moment to process. Stunning.





Earlier we passed a signpost to Big Willis Lake leading in another direction but passed this little lake as we hiked on to Hope Pass.




I am always in awe when above treeline. Sounds of Marmots and Pikas fill the air as we continue on.

It’s Colorado Wild and here are a few items to highly consider:: Bear Spray, Nuun Tablets, & First Aid.





The final push to the top! it’s grueling yet intoxicating being surrounded by the highest peaks.

NOTE: Hope Pass is known as the iconic climb of the Leadville Trail 100 Run Course. We saw runners on this trail! So amazing.




Yay, we are here and it’s mind-boggling, The views in every direction are totally unreal. It’s exceptional. Meeting a few CT thru-hikers was an added bonus as they also take in the scenery as well as take a break.

It was fun to hear all the trail stories from the CT thru-hikers. And even more, fun to be a trail angel as we passed out extra sandwiches we had carried with us. Bring extra if you are doing a day hike. It’s much appreciated.



This hike tops most trails I’ve previously hiked. Shady beginnings in rich forests and an area above treeline that surpassed previous hikes. I absolutely love it.

This was hard but I feel doable for any hiking enthusiast.

Not to be taken lightly though. It’s a high altitude trail, dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider. For a look at Practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike. > CLICK HERE

10 miles out & back

Rated: strenuous

3,254′ elevation gain

Highest elevation: 12,508′

No restroom

Leashed dogs ok

Nearest Town: Twin Lakes/Leadville, CO

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

San Isabel National Forest

Leadville Ranger District



Linkins Lake Trail & Beyond

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Mountain Boy Ridge Trail on the Continental Divide is Epic

Drop a comment below for any questions. Share your adventures with me. I’d love to hear from you, HAPPY TRAILS…

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).