Trail Run Project Logo

Capital Lake, Avalanche Creek, Hell's Roaring Pass Loop

  5.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


24.7 mile 39.7 kilometer loop
77% Runnable


Ascent: 6,653' 2,028 m
Descent: -6,635' -2,022 m
High: 12,051' 3,673 m
Low: 8,042' 2,451 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 130% (53°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Nate Varns
This content is still in development or in editorial review.

Tough, steep, and breathtaking. A multi day hike with very few people.

Nate Varns

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This is a great multi day hike that leads up to Capital Lake, Down Avalanche Creek, then up Hell's Roaring Creek and down to the Capital trailhead. It has all the wonders of the Snow Mass Wilderness without the crowds. With two passes at 12,200 and Turquoise lakes teaming with trout, its a great alternative to the 4 Pass Loop.

Need to Know

This is bear territory, there is lots of bear scat and tons of bear claw marks on the Aspens. Hiking up from Avalanche Creek, near the top of Hell's Roaring Trail, after you cross Hell's roaring Creek, the trail fizzles out near the top. Route finding required. We hiked straight up above the tree line and found a clear trail that heads directly to the pass without bush whacking through the dense forest.


Start at the trailhead for Capital lake. Take the Capital Capitol Creek Trail (#1961) to Capital Lake. There you'll find two campgrounds here with plenty of water and Marmots! Anything left unattended will be licked or chewed to death by those salt addicted fancy ground hogs! You could opt for the the summit of Capital Peak from here.

Continue over the pass with spectacular views of the Snowmass Wilderness. Travel Down hill passing many spectacular waterfalls and a roaring artisan well where you can fill your bottles with out the need to filter! Set up camp Dooley Park where there is fresh spring water and huge flat campsites. Dooley Park sits on an open meadow with lots of deer and elk.

For the last leg, continue down hill crossing a huge mudslide where you can see all kinds of animal tracks. (watch out for quick sand). Cross Hell's Roaring Creek. The bridge is completely gone but we put some logs down and it is crossable. You can wade across if you like. Then start the 4,000' elevation gain beside Hell's Roaring Creek to the pass.

At the Pass you can see your vehicle parked at the trailhead several miles away. There is a good view of Wilson Lake where John Denver was inspired to write "Rocky Mountain High" The hike down is on a ridge top almost the whole way. There are no water sources on the ridge top.

Pass the Outfitters tents and make your way down the 4x4 road back to your vehicle and call it a day!

There are many camp spots at the trailhead and on the 4x4 rd.

History & Background

One of the best elk hunting spots in Colorado. Outfitters do guided hunts here.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Featured Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In



Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


  5.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Run Rankings


in Colorado


139 Views Last Month
139 Since Jul 22, 2019



Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running