West Willow Creek Trailhead


Range: San Juan Mountains
Coordinates: 37.95563, -106.96672
14ers: San Luis Peak
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)

Driving Directions

The West Willow Creek Trailhead is nearly 9 miles north of Creede. After taking CO 149 into Creede, turn right onto Main Street and drive north through town to join Loma Ave/Road 503. The 503 road is a well maintained 2wd dirt road, albeit steep and rough in a few sections, and only turns to 4wd when you get within 1.5 miles of the trailhead. Reset your odometer as you pass the last buildings on your right or when the road turns to dirt:
  • Just outside of town you'll pass a mining museum/community building and a large parking area for ATV/OHV trailers.
  • Continue north through a gorge, full of mining remnants.
  • At 2.9 miles the road has a sharp left turn at the Midwest Mine site.
  • At 4.8 miles continue straight on 503 at a large intersection with Bachelor Road (504). Just past the intersection there should be a sign for Equity Mine.
  • At 7.1 miles turn left on 503, as you see the working Equity Mine up to your right. The 2wd road ends at the Equity Mine. This last 1.5 miles on 503 requires 4wd and good clearance.
  • At 8.2 miles the road switchbacks down and crosses a creek. If you somehow made it this far without 4wd, park at the turn before dropping to the creek - there's a pull-off big enough for a few vehicles.
  • At 8.7 miles reach the unmarked trailhead at a sharp left turn. The road continues west but your trail starts at the turn. There's parking for several vehicles and a few tent spots.

Winter Access

There is usually a winter closure at the Commodore Mine.
Status Updates 
Posted By: jenvalencia
Info: Easily reached the trailhead in a Rav4. Dry to trailhead and stream crossings real low. Parked at the second switchback above
Posted By: bjbatchelor
Info: Made it in a Subaru Outback without scraping. There were 2 tricky spots on the 4x4 road that you need to pick a good line on. I let my Subaru’s transmission cool down at Equity Mine for a few minutes.
Posted By: random-dude
Info: 4wd trailhead in decent shape and 4wd not strictly necessary. There were multiple Crosstreks at the trailhead although i would worry about excessive heat in the transmission given the altitude and the uphill nature of the drive from Creede given that Subee’s dont have low gearing. A few stream crossings but nothing more than 8-10 inches deep.
Posted By: seayachter
Info: Road is in decent shape. Made in stock 4x4 pickup with no issues. Multiple Subarus at the trailhead so proper 4x4 isn’t mandatory. Follow the map/gps to 504 and 503 and not the sign for Willow Creek. The sign will take you a much longer way to the trailhead.
Posted By: WildWanderer
Info: Second hand information from someone I met at a trailhead last night who doesnt post here: road clear until the mine. After that snow covered, and it looks like someone deliberately scattered nails over the snow covered road.
Posted By: aksean22
Info: Bachelor Road (504) is completely dry and any 2WD vehicle can make it to the 503/504 junction. Plowing stops at the junction.
Posted By: JtheChemE
Info: Prior to 12/28 storm, Bachelor road almost completely dry to the junction of 503/504 where plowing ends.
Posted By: druid2112
Info: The road is snowy but plowed enough that the ol’ Camry with snow tires had no issues reaching the end of what is plowed. First day I was there, there was still some loose snow, but by the end of the second day they had made another pass with the plow.

So yes, you can reach the junction of the 503/504 roads from the Bachelor Road approach in a 2WD and begin your hike from there.
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Same as last. You have to go up 503 to reach equity winter TH roughly 2-3mi from 503/504 split on Bach Pass. Phoenix TH best to go 502-1A split (RT) from 502 this time of year unless confident in vehicle. Ice slab .5mi prior to Ph. Pk. Will have more beta this weekend including rio grande
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: Road closure is at the 503/504 intersection.
Posted By: pmccumber
Info: I was at the trailhead yesterday. It hasnt been better in years. Somebody took a tracked blade to the whole route from the Equity Mine to the trailhead. There was a Sprinter Van and a Subaru Forester there at the trailhead. Its even graded beyond the trailhead up the hill. Keep in mind, that 1/2 mi from the creek crossing to the trailhead has a dirt base that is susceptible to mud and ruts.
Posted By: Jnaffy
Info: Stock wrangler. Minimal 4wd needed if any. The area i assume theyre saying is the dried creek stay right for a good line.
Posted By: Jnaffy
Info: Stock wrangler. Minimal 4wd needed if any. The area i assume theyre saying is the dried creek stay right for a good line.
Posted By: Kent McLemore
Info: Easy two wheel drive to Equity Mine, then moderate 4WD to the TH. No problem in a stock Tacoma.
Posted By: Flyingfish
Info: Passable only with 4x4. Creek crossing is low and any mud holes are dry. There are some very large holes in the road between the creek and TH. Made the TH with a stock Jeep XJ
Posted By: corunner
Info: One of the more pleasant 4wd roads I’ve been on. It is dry all the way to the upper TH. No mud. My stock Silverado 1500 4wd had no issues. The road immediately after the left turn at the mine might be the narrowest, steepest, and roughest. After that it’s really not bad at all. There are two spots with deep ruts. It’s not hard to find a good line through them. The main creek crossing was about ankle deep with no large rocks in it. Easy in and out.

Not really any camping options until you get to the TH.
Posted By: JacerJack
Info: I was the modified F-150 mentioned two entries below... Made it all the way to the West Willow Creek trailhead with good tires and careful driving, although I would not recommend attempting until it completely dries. 503 is clear and free of snow up to the Equity Mine. Beyond that, there are a handful of short snow drifts and muddy spots that are a bit tricky, but its 80-90% clear. You should be able to make it to the 8.2 mile creek crossing with a capable truck/suv and competent driver. I would strongly recommend parking just before the creek crossing. The next half mile is pretty hairy. There is one particular spot about 100 yards from the trailhead with a deceptively deep mud bog. One party got stuck there and, in their efforts to get unstuck, made an absolute mess of the road (Dodge truck was apparently buried in thick mud up to its headlights). That section is now virtually impassible. Not worth the effort of trying to drive all the way to the trailhead. Save yourself the potential of getting stuck and count on adding an extra mile (round trip) and ~100 ft of vert by parking just before the creek crossing.
Posted By: emarr
Info: 4wd road is open all the way to trailhead. However, I would recommend parking before the Willow Creek crossing . Pretty treacherous after the crossing. I crossed the creek and found hikers stuck in the mud in a nice Ram truck. Pulled them out and we both went back and parked before the creek crossing. Happy Hiking!
Posted By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: The 503 road is open all the way to the 4x4 trailhead, however I would recommend parking before the creek crossing as described in the TH description at mile 8.2. I pushed my luck and made it to the top in a stock Tacoma. There are two drifts before the crossing and a few after that were no problem, but after the creek mud becomes an issue. I was seriously concerned I would get stuck and barely made it out of a few rough spots. The only vehicle at the top besides ATVs and bikes was a modified F150 with proper mud tires. If the road is frozen in the morning, it would be very easy to get to the top and then have a rough time getting back down after it thaws later in the day. My fears about getting stuck manifested when an ATV in front of us on the way out got stuck and actually broke a wheel trying to break free of the mud. A few others helped move it off the road and I took them down the road to Creede, getting very lucky with careful yet sometimes brazen driving.
Posted By: jmanner
Info: Road closure is at the 503/504 intersection; which you can reach from either road. I guess the mine is closed so they arent plowing past the intersection. So add 2.5 miles each way and about 750 of uphill
Posted By: Furthermore
Info: The road is only plowed to the 503/504 intersection at ~10,550 (~2.4 miles below the Equality Mine). The road is accessible by any 2WD to that point.
Posted By: Randyletourneau
Info: The initial drive up from Creede through the mines are awesome. The 2WD road is vey easy and doable by any car.

The right turn up the 4WD road I missed initially, but the 2WD road dead ends right away so it is hard to get lost.

The 4WD road has lots of rocks, but I was able to do it in a 2WD CRV but you really have to know how to protect the underside of the vehicle. I do have experience and would not recommend for most drivers.

The trailhead has lots of room to park and has water, but the level ground space for a tent is very limited.
Posted By: TakeAhike
Info: Trailhead was easily accessible via my Toyota 4Runner with 4 wheel drive. Very shallow stream crossings, and some rough terrain, but nothing too extreme.

With that said, I arrived at night, it’s easy to miss the trailhead road sign for Willow Creek, if you continue straight you will dead end at the Equity Mine. Be careful as there is a road that goes down into the stream just to the left of the mine, luckily, there are two big boulders at the bottom of this dirt road which would be very difficult to get over even with a high clearance vehicle.

If you arrive at the Equity mine, you went too far, turn around, maybe just 100 or so yards and take the dirt road that forks left before reaching the mine.

*The pictures included are from my drive out
Posted By: ThuChad
Info: Very smooth 2wd road to equity mine then easy 4wd road past Equity Mine. A higher clearance 2wd vehicle may be able to make it. The road is CLOSED before the creek crossing a half mile from the trailhead. The creek was shin deep. Figure an additional mile round trip for hiking from here.
Posted By: scronz
Info: Drove from Creede to the trail head, really easy drive to the Equity Mine. You can park there and add 1.5 mile hike to your trip, each way. We have a Jeep, we took the 4x4 trail which wasnt too bad. A couple of deeper rooted sections that would not work for lower clearance vehicles. There were two pickups that made it along with a Subaru Outback.

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