West Willow Creek Trailhead
Info

Location

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: 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.
1 
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.
 
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: The road is dry all the way to the rugged stream crossing, 1/2 mile before the 4wd trailhead. The 2wd is rough washboard in a few of the steep sections shortly up from Creede.
 
Posted By: AlexanderL4
Info: Drove to trailhead to climb San Luis on 5/25. Definitely need high clearance 4 wheel drive for last 1.6 miles from Equity Mine. Kind of a tight squeeze with some down trees about .2 miles above equity mine, but other than that no problem getting to trailhead with ice or snow.
 
Posted By: Eli Boardman
Info: Dry all the way to the end of the improved road at the mine just above 11k. Be aware that some sections are very steep! Beyond the mine, the road is fairly rutted and muddy in places but passable in a Subaru outback. The actual trailhead is filled with ice, so it’s best to park just before it.
 
Posted By: Tornadoman
Info: The drive to equity mine 2wd is super easy if you take the ’reverse bachelor’ loop. Follow 504 for 6.2 miles until it hits 503 at a t intersection. Go left and follow 503 for another 2.2 miles to equity mine parking. Easily made in Corolla, a few washboards and holes but overall one of the easier dirt roads I have seen. 4wd road has iced over stream crossings which had mostly melted in afternoon, one 4wd was at upper th.
 
Posted By: merrion13
Info: Creek crossings are low, and but for a couple washouts, fairly straightforward if your vehicle has clearance. There was a Forester at the TH along with the usual 4Runners, Jeeps and Full size trucks.
 
Posted By: dwoodward13
Info: Went up the "reverse" Bachelor Loop (started across from the Ball fields) to Equity and had no issues in a Camry. I would recommend this approach if shooting for San Luis with a less suitable car. Beautiful route!
 
Posted By: benlen
Info: 
 
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: Took a stock Subaru Legacy up to the Equity Mine. No issues with the dirt road to that point - make sure you have good traction and at least AWD though... there are some steep grades to get up to that mine. There’s a parking area by the mine. Dirt road in good condition until that point. You’ll need an AWD/high-clearance after the mine to get to the TH though. There are some puddles and the creek crossing (first one is small, second one is larger). The mile+ past the mine to the TH is doable in at least a Toyota Highlander, though. Past the TH the road gets steep and rough, so park by the TH start.
 
Posted By: chicagostylehotdog
Info: No snow on the road. Took a Jeep Compass to the upper TH with no difficulties. Was considering taking my civic and I’m glad I didn’t. Lots of puddles - 6-8"? deep - along the road, some as wide as the entire road, which would make hiking from the lower TH a bit more difficult. Creek crossing is shown in the attached picture. The water level was low here, maybe 4" at the deepest, but some of the later puddles are deeper.
1 
Posted By: AlexeyD
Info: Snow still blocks road in the same place as last week’s report, but road to equity mine melting out quickly. Follow summer directions from Creede - no need to take Bachelor Mine alternate route.
 
Posted By: killingcokes
Info: Road is plowed to the junction of the Bachelor Mine Road (504) at 10,549’. Still a fair amount of snow past that.
 
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Drove a high-clearance 4WD as far as (but not across) the second West Willow Creek crossing on the 4WD road, which is about .5 mile from the TH. This creek crossing has a fairly steep decent into it, and a hard ice cover over it. The 503 road is mostly snow covered after the 503/504 junction, with a mixture of snow drifts, ice flows, and even blown bare dirt sections closer to the TH.
 
Posted By: dogballs
Info: West Willow Creek trailhead can be easily accessed. There were a couple midsize SUVs there today. Any AWD/FWD should be able to make it with careful driving. There are a few puddles to drive through, but the base is solid so just go slow. I found the directions a little confusing, so here are some more. From the intersection of Main Street and Loma Ave it is 8 miles to the trailhead. Go north on CR503. You will pass the intersection of CR503 and CR502 at .5miles. Keep left on CR503. At 2.4miles you will come to the intersection of CR503 and CR502 again. Keep left. At 2.6miles you need to do a 180 going left continuing on CR503. At 4.4miles you come to the intersection on CR503 and CR504. Keep right on CR503. At 6.4miles you will come to the entrance of Equity Mine. Go left on the 4x4 road (West Willow Rd). At 6.9miles you will cross the creek for the first time. There is a culvert there. Continue on the 4x4 road up the valley. At 7.5miles the road descends back towards the creek where you cross it a second time. This time you drive through the creek and make a 180 to the right. From there its .5miles to the trailhead.
4 
Posted By: StephenLutgring
Info: Road is clear up to Equity Mine parking area. There are large snow drifts about a half mile up the 4x4 portion but they are melting fast.
 
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: Rd 503 to Equity Mine parking area from Rd 504 is not plowed now. It is deep in snow drifts and shows no signs of being driven on. (It was not plowed but drivable 11/
Its 5.7 miles to this 503/504 split from pavement, 6.2 miles from 504/Main St junction. A wooden sign at 504/Main St junction says Bachelor Rd.
 
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: I was able to drive to the Equity Mine closure/parking area. Deep ruts and snow on the road the last ~2 miles. Few if any places to turn around or park. The 4wd road beyond Equity Mine to the trailhead had not been travelled.
 
Posted By: NittanyLion14er
Info: Trail head is so much easier if you think like this: Leave Creede on Main St and veer right onto 503 at stop at edge of town. Stay on this road for what seems like forever (maybe this was because I drove in in the dark at 10:30pm). There is only one left turn at the end near the Equity mine (literally yards from the mine entrance).
Measure from end of the pavement; 0.7 miles you get to the first mine and through the underpass. Go another 1.8 miles you get to the Midwest Mine. Go another 1.8 miles you come to a three way intersection (left turn puts you on 504). Go straight. Go 2.1 miles and you should veer left onto the continuation of 503. There was a sign there for a 4wd road (picture). If you miss this turn no biggie you will run into the Equity Mine parking area. Just turn around and take the first right. After another 1.6 miles you will be at the TH and parking area. This road has some 4wd spots so if you don‘t have high clearance or 4wd park at the Equity mine.
 
Posted By: windwaker
Info: The deadend at Equity mine is easily accessible by 2 wheel drive passenger car. I tried the 4 wheel drive trail with my XC60 and was able to comfortably make it all the way across the small creek crossing. On the other side was a little too much for my Volvo, but saw a 4 runner easily make it over. I backed down and found a pull off. Ended up walking the last 3/10 of a mile to the trailhead. The Trailhead is not very well marked, just two sticks, easy to miss. But is labeled with trail #882.
 
Posted By: Mt_DAN
Info: Road is muddy but fine to the start of the 4x4 portion.
4 wheel drive recomended.
I decided not to ford the creek 1mile past the 4x4 sign and just start hiking there.
 
Posted By: ksteinhaus
Info: Drove up to the trail head on the 4x4 road past Equity Mine that is mentioned on the route description in a Stock TRD Toyota Tacoma. Road was clear of snow but had some small puddles that iced over in the morning. This road could probably be gained just as easily with moderate clearance, less then my vehicle.
 
Posted By: jdorje
Info: I‘m pretty sure any passenger vehicle could get to the Equity Mine (11100‘), where I (accidentally) parked. The road is pretty intense in its steepness and dropoffs (mostly right above Creede), but aside from some washboards it‘s in good condition. Making it the last quarter/half mile up to the official trailhead (11600‘ or so) would require decent clearance.

With any snow at all this road will be scary.
 



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