At some points in the tundra, the trail can become hard to see so look for the rock cairns. Be sure to take a map of the area and a compass to aid you in staying on the right path (or use the Hiking Project mobile app
). It is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thunder showers. It is best to get an early start and plan to be off the ridge by noon or 1:00 p.m. Be sure to take sunscreen, rain gear, and drinking water. Remember, hiking at high altitudes requires more time and energy.
Features: Lake — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers
From Lake City take Hwy 149 south, 2.5 miles. Turn right at Lake San Cristobal Recreation area turn off. Follow the paved road approximately 4 miles, then continue on the dirt road for about 2.6 miles. The trailhead sign and parking area are on the right-hand side of the road just before the William's Creek Campground.
The hike up Williams Creek trail can be strenuous but well worth the effort. The views atop the ridge are spectacular. In the distance, you can see the buildings in the old ghost town of Carson along with Wager, Mill and Cataract Gulches. Looking toward the northwest, one can see the majestic, towering peaks of Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks (two of the 14,000 ft. peaks in the area). From the saddle of Grassy Mountain you can continue north onto the Alpine Gulch Trail
for an overnight trip.
From the trailhead, the path leads through USFS land for .5 mile before entering BLM land. The trail crosses Williams Creek and continues up a small tributary past several ponds. After 1.8 miles, you'll join an old jeep road. Follow this road up about 100 yards, where it splits in 3 directions. Ignore the routes going up to the right and down to the left. Instead, follow the middle road going up to the left. It winds through a variety of meadows, aspen and spruce forest for another 2.5 miles until it emerges at timberline. Rock cairns mark the trail across the tundra as it climbs along the ridge for another 3 miles to the Grassy Mountain Saddle.
Williams Creek Trail may be used in conjunction with the Alpine Gulch Trail
for a beautiful overnight trip. There is not much in the upper reaches of these trails so either carry enough with you or plan to camp in a place close to permanent water.
Low impact camping is permitted all along the trail.