Willow Creek Trailhead


Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.98889, -105.66278
14ers: Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak
Elevation: 8,850'
Photo Photo Add

Road Difficulty

2WD, rough dirt road 2   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 4WD may be required because the road sometimes forms ruts and portions are a bit steep.

Driving Directions

Take Colorado 17 to the town of Moffat. On the south side of town, look for the sign for Crestone and turn east on the "RD T" road. Drive approx. 11.5 miles to Crestone. Continue straight and turn left on Alder Street. Drive through town a bit and turn right onto Galena. Follow Galena out of town and it turns to dirt. Now on Forest Service road #949, it's approx. 2 miles to the trailhead.

Winter Access


More Info

Parking: Room for ~30 vehicles.
Camping: Not much dispersed camping in the area. If you're not packing in, consider sleeping in your vehicle.
Restrooms? Yes
Fees? No
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
Posted By: shapovalovm
Info: The lot was almost full at 5am on 8/21 (Sunday) when I got there.

The road is not rough at all, had 0 issues with an Accord. You can take your sports-car there, if you have one. Apart from maybe one spot where the recent rain mane a small trench across the road.

Bathroom actually did not have any TP in the morning, but was restocked by the time I was back (~2pm).
Posted By: rcpelikan
Info: Road was in great condition and trouble-free with a 2WD Ford Focus.
Bathroom was in great condition with 4 rolls of TP.
Posted By: Istoodupthere
Info: Any car can get there
Posted By: TheSpaceForce
Info: Road is in good condition, all the way to the trailhead, with no snow. Restroom is open, but the 4th of July crowd has hit it pretty hard 4 rolls of TP became 1 within about 12 hours ;)
Posted By: SJMA Saguache
Info: Trailhead is open, but restroom is not currently being serviced. There may or may not be toilet paper at the facility. Trailhead restroom service will continue in May. Please remember to Stay the Trail, Leave No Trace, and be safe. For additional information contact the Rio Grande National Forest, Saguache Ranger District at 719-655-2547 or checkout www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande.
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: The upper trailhead is still open. Snow begins only a couple tenths of a mile prior to the trailhead. Parking lot has perhaps an inch of snow cover. Bathroom is open and stocked with toilet paper.
Posted By: pfcstuck
Info: Trail is nice and dry 1st 1/4 mile after it turns dirt is bumpiest, but my Mini made it just fine
Posted By: RWSchaffer
Info: The road is open and dry. My 2WD hatchback made it to trailhead in spite of roughness.
Posted By: RWSchaffer
Info: The road to the trailhead is closed at the winter closure gate about a mile below the trailhead (pictured). The last mile before the closure gate is snowy and unplowed, but the snow is only a few inches deep and well enough tracked that my 2WD hatchback had no difficulty reaching the parking area about 100 feet before the closure gate.
Posted By: aussie
Info: Made it to the trailhead without issue in a stock Subaru Forester. Had to take it slow through one rutted out section. Kept all my food and scented items in a bear canister out of site in my car and had no problems. Plenty of toilet paper at the toilet, but someone had left trash inside. The trailhead was right on a creek so easy to stock up on water and was a great way to clean and cool my feet after a long hike!
Posted By: MountainBuhn
Info: Easy drive. One of the few dirt roads that has actually gotten better over time (last year had larger ruts). Definitely gets crowded. Definitely bring water as this area is lower (8,800) and much more desert climate. Kept some bleach in the car as it deters bear smells. Didn’t hear of any more reports after last week. Surprisingly low amount of mosquitos. Warmer spring this year probably the cause.
Posted By: davedad
Info: Smooth sailing on the drive in a Prius. I wanted to give people a heads up about a trailhead bear. We were gone for 2 nights and returned to a break-in. We left an empty cooler in the car. There was no food in the car but the bear must have seen the cooler and equated it with food. The bear broke a rear window and explored the interior of the car. Nothing but sandy paw prints and some shredded cardboard left behind. Be thoughtful and leave nothing in your car. (We had a car with no food in it and still got stung.)
Posted By: IHikeLikeAGirl
Info: Overall, the road is in great condition, passenger cars can make it to the TH. But yes, pay attention to a few dips or a rock in the road (ALL avoidable). Friday night, the parking lot appeared to fill up, quickly. Outhouse is awesome, but has a pile of trash in it (thank you to the inconsiderate/selfish people who left it...yes, sarcasm), no TP, and appears to be in need of a cleaning.
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Smooth as butter. Easy 2WD. Outhouse is open but bring your own TP. Cell service at TH parking area
Posted By: stickmann
Info: Road is open all the way to the trailhead. No snow left. There is a short section about 0.3 miles before the trailhead that has some pretty big bumps/divots to navigate and might be difficult for low clearance vehicles until it is filled in.
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Gate closure still in effect 1 1/4 mile from TH. Bathrooms still open with TP. Muddy/icy in the beginning and variable conditions following to 10k. Backpacked in and booted to 11k at the head wall without needing snowshoes or traction. This will differ depending on the boots you use. Snow gets deeper after the creek crossing with limited water filter options. Turned around early due to several decisions
Posted By: JakeByk
Info: Definitely want clearance but good with AWD. There are some weird dips in the road 2/3rd the way up which are timed just perfectly that if you’re not super careful you can bottom out. Closest I’ve come to bottom-out; I drive a Forester. There are bathrooms at the trailhead (bless).
Posted By: wintersage
Info: Ditto previous post. The dirt road is a little bumpy with some maybe-avoidable holes that might make it tough for 2WD, but it is generally mellow and accessible.
Posted By: clairekm
Info: Gate is open and the road is dry
Posted By: jscully205
Info: Theres a locked gate located about mile before of the summer TH parking lot. I pulled off to the side of the road and started there.
Posted By: mikefromcraig
Info: An average passenger car with decent tires could make it to the trailhead. The majority of the road is dry. The bathroom at the TH is unlocked.
Posted By: ibgordo
Info: Road to the trailhead is in very good shape. 2WD will make it with ease. The trail to Willow Lake is also in very good shape and completely clear.

The bear that was raiding camp sites at Willow Lake was killed and removed by rangers on 8/3/18. Please continue to hang your food so this doesn’t happen again...
Posted By: thurs
Info: It’s definitely easy 2WD right now. I blazed up there in a low clearance minivan at a decent speed.

At 10:30pm on a Friday there were still some spots. At 3pm on Saturday, there were no spots and people parked a good ways down the road. Keep that in mind.

According to the register at the TH, the bear is still active and breaking into people’s tents at Willow Lake!
Posted By: stratton42
Info: Made it easily in a Toyota Prius. There were some rocks/ruts that were easy to see and navigate around or straddle. There is an active bear near the willow lake campsites. The bear ripped my partners pad, tent and sleeping bag we assume because he was looking for food. My partner tore his site down before the assent thinking the bear would leave it alone if it were packed. I left my site set up and the bear left it alone. The bear is not afraid of people. We were able to chase it off by banging rocks or camp pots together. You MUST hang your food or bring a bear proof container.
Posted By: BenThom11
Info: Made it all the way in my Honda Civic with no difficulties. Many other low clearance cars were there too, including a mustang.
© 2022 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.