Twin Lakes, CO, is surrounded by unbeatable beauty at the foot of Independence Pass.

A loved hike of ours is Hope Pass via Willis Gulch Trail. A challenging climb that will test your strength & breathing! An incredible trail that takes you far above treeline to striking views beyond your expectations.


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Willis Gulch Trail is a popular starting point for the hike to summit Hope Pass, with easy access on Hwy 82, not far from Twin Lakes.

We arrived early and had the trail to ourselves.


Just after hiking over Lake Creek on the bridge, you enter an emerald-green marshy wonderland. Beaver ponds and stepping stones lead the way.
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You will come upon a signpost about a 1/2 mile into the trail 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.


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When crossing another bridge, we marveled at the waterfall cascading beneath us and the vivid greens in the mossy rocks.
Turn to Hope Pass 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!

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. > Day Hiker Checklist

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Old mining remnants along the way allowed us to catch our breath as we explored., After that, it’s a steady uphill trek as we get closer to the final push to the summit.


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After hiking through wildflower-filled meadows, we break the tree line. Wow, the views ahead are mind-boggling. They come at you suddenly and take a moment to process. Stunning!
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It is fabulous above the tree line. There is nothing else like it. Getting deep into the wilderness and being where few get to go sends a deep gratitude within us. This trail is phenomenal.

Sounds of Marmots and Pikas fill the air as we continue.


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The final push to the summit! I’m not going to lie; it’s grueling yet intoxicating, surrounded by the highest peaks and steep.

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


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Yay, we are here, and it’s mind-boggling. Views in every direction are unreal. It’s sensational. We meet a few CT thru-hikers as they take in the scenery and take a break with us.

Listening to all the trail stories from the CT thru-hikers was exciting and fun to be a trail angel as we passed out extra sandwiches we had carried with us.

Be a trail angel and bring extra food for your day hike to Hope Pass to share with thru-hikers on the CT. It’s much appreciated.

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This hike tops a lot of trails I’ve hiked – shady beginnings in rich forests and an exciting area above the tree line. I love it.

The trail was challenging, 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. Look at the practical gear we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks every hike. > Day Hiker Checklist


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

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Linkins Lake Trail

Independence Pass

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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