West Willow Creek Trailhead


San Juan Mountains
37.95563° N, -106.96672° W
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: 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.
Posted By: sharper100
Info: We took 503 in a Rubicon, so had no issues. It’s actually like a road (very well packed dirt) up to the working mine. The next 1.1 miles needs a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. At 8.2, the road is still closed. You need to park here and walk the rest of the way (.5) to the trailhead.
Posted By: Chad+Dewitt
Info: Road is closed at the 8.2 mile creek crossing. I turned back because I didn’t want wet boots at the start of the hike. It could be waded if you had spare boots. I wouldn’t do it in thedark though. It’s running high and fast.
Posted By: BlueFish
Info: Road is clear up to equity mine. After taking the 4wD road that is to the left be prepared for multiple stream crossings. Road is closed before larger stream crossing near the end. We camped right where the road ended and it was only a half mile walk to the unmarked trailhead.
Posted By: CheapCigarMan
Info: Drove all the way to within 625 feet of the TH where there is a pretty deep mud pit.
Posted By: salleybthomas
Info: Fallen tree has been partially moved off the road, enough for us to squeeze past in Rav4, made it to the creek crossing and did not attempt, water is running high and fast, may be possible in larger vehicle. Road for the most part is in good shape, though very wet and muddy
Posted By: Bones007
Info: Road 503 is now open out of town but there is a large fallen tree that completely blocks the 4WD road about 0.1 miles just past the 503 turnoff after the equity mine. Essentially 1.6 miles before the trailhead. There is nowhere to turn around after the turnoff before the fallen tree so we had to come all the way back down in reverse. No getting past it without a large chainsaw at this point.
Posted By: JulianSmith
Info: Tried to approach San Luis last night, but found 503 closed at the edge of town. Unofficial word was the road being washed out. Rio Grand River looked like it is about to burst its banks.
Posted By: SarahT
Info: 504 is plowed and in good shape to the junction with 503 which is 2 miles before the mine. There is a nice parking area there at the 503/504 junction. Not passable by any vehicle except a sled after that.
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: We drove an additional 0.6 miles past the 503 / 504 intersection in our Subaru Forester where we found a nice pull out and decided to park. We had passed a local in a 4wd saying it got a little dicey beyond that point. This left us about 1.7 miles short of the Equity mine. A 4wd with a capable driver would have been able to get close the mine and our way out we observed ORV tracks that made it within a quarter mile of the mine.
Posted By: shsdawg58
Info: We made it to the upper th at 11500 in a Toyota Tacoma. We didnt even have to put her in four wheel drive.

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