Williams Creek Trail

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
A long day
Class 2

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Page By:
Williams Creek Trail
Created On: May 19, 2005
Last Edited On: Apr 28, 2006


Please refer to the Williams Creek Trailhead page for driving directions.

Route Description

Sunshine PeakSunshine Peak

RT Distance: 13.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 5875'

The Williams Creek approach provides access to both PT 13,811 and PT 13,832 year-round. Even though you can take a shorter route from Silver Creek, I recommend Williams Creek, especially for those of you who've already made a trip or two to Silver Creek to climb the area's 14ers.

From the trailhead, follow the narrow trail as it follows Williams Creek on its east side, crossing the East Fork of Williams Creek at a half-mile. After another quarter-mile, the trail crosses Williams Creek, leaving it for good to head southwest along a tributary creek. The trail climbs steeply for a few hundred feet before it levels off in a series of meadows and abandoned beaver ponds. At mile 1.7, the trail joins an old Jeep road that comes up from Castle Lakes. Very soon after you join the road, you'll reach a 4-way intersection with another road. I thought the correct route was clear, but make sure you don't turn onto the intersecting road! Follow the road all the way to treeline above 12,000'. The road circles around Point 12,195, becomes a trail again, and deposits you on PT 13,811's south ridge.

From here, you have to choose which peak you want to ascend first: (1) If you want to head to PT 13,832 first, make a slightly descending traverse on the west side of the ridge, dropping into the East Fork of Bent Creek. Then pick up Point 13,632's long east ridge and climb 0.8 miles and 1500' up the ridge to that point's summit. From here, drop a couple hundred feet, and then climb the last 370' to PT 13,832's summit. The main reason you might want to hike up 832 first is to get the taller, more out-of-the-way summit done first. (2) If you want to climb to PT 13,811 first, just continue hiking up the south ridge all the way to the summit. Be sure not to follow the trail once it leaves the south ridge! This trail leads far east of your goals eventually attaining PT 13,811's saddle with Grassy Mountain. A compelling reason to climb 811 first when snow conditions are good is the possibility of a glissade off Point 13,632 during your descent after climbing 832.

The traverse between these peaks is a straightforward affair going in either direction. Just hike the ridge crest between the peaks, skirting Point 13,632 to its south if you desire. During the snow season, cornices form on the ridge's north and northwest sides.

Essential Gear

During the snow season, an ice axe and crampons may be advisable.