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: rhickman213
Info: The drive up to West Willow Creek TH is clear of snow but is still a little wet in a few places. We were able to make it in a 2WD Jeep Grand Cherokee with little issue.
Posted By: DynamicPursuits
Info: The road is fine for 2WD up to Equity Mine. After that snow blocks road 503. There‘s not enough snow to skin but to much to drive.
Posted By: gcbighorn
Info: Winter TH for San Luis Pk for this winter up West Willow Ck is going to be Allen‘s Crossing...as Equity Mine has shut down and road is not being plowed the last couple miles up to the mine. Snowmobile tracks will likely keep one from having to break trail from Allen‘s Crossing up to the continental divide/wilderness boundary. The extra miles however will make San Luis from West Willow quite the epic slog ...this winter!
Posted By: KTC88
Info: I followed Roach‘s Route 2 description (3rd ed.). Basically just drove north out of Creede until I got to the intersection with Andrews Crossing, then continued straight until I reached the Equity Mine. The road was clear until Andrews Crossing, then snow covered. This section was no trouble with 4WD. The route to the 4WD TH was not passable due to deep and drifted snow in the trees.
Posted By: bmcconahey
Info: We followed Roach‘s 3rd edition "Route 1" directions and it was VERY straightforward to get to the trailhead and I would recommend this route. There was some minor snowpack and ice in the trees, but a walk in the park for an Outback. For those who don‘t have the 3rd edition: "From the Willow Creek bridge just south of Creed, go 0.3 miles south on Colorado 149 on the west side of Willow Creek to three dirt roads leading west (right). Turn west onto the northernmost (rightmost) of the three dirt roads and measure from this point. Climb the hill southwest of Creede, pass the Creede cemetery turnoff at mile 0.5, turn west (left) at a T-junction at mile 1.2, pass the southern turnoff for the Rat Creek-West Willow Creek 4x4 Loop Road at mile 3.3, and continue on the main road to Allens Crossing over West Willow Creek at mile 6.3. Turn north (left) at a T-junction just east of Allens Crossing and go north to a parking area below the Equity Mine at mile 8.6." We actually took the 4x4 road from this point (off to the left) to the unmarked trailhead seen in Photo #2 on the route description on this site, but DO NOT attempt this road if you do not have decent clearance. It was frozen in the morning and muddy in the afternoon.
Posted By: srranch1
Info: Here is our mileage and a minor description update:
From End of pavement North of Creede, past the Mine Museum, pass Commodore Mine at .8mi, stay left at FR 502 at 2.3mi, go around hairpin at 2.5mi, go straight thru T- intersetion at 4.3mi, and look for Equity mine sign, at 6.3mi you will do a bypass of Equity Mine Rd, left up a minimal 4WD single lane trail, cross Willow Creek at 7.4mi, then park at 8.0mi TH. The ROUTE description might direct you up the 4WD road, which leaves the TH parking. But you want to follow Willow Creek, single track, which you can search on San Luis Trail 882 on google. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/riogrande/recarea/?recid=29176 this connects you to Colorado Trail.
Posted By: thebeave7
Info: Drove up the canyon from Creede past all the old mines, narrow but smooth dirt. From the turn off to the Equity Mine the road is in fairly good shape, 2wd passable. The bypass around the Equity Mine is a bit bumpy with a few rocks and potholes, but was passable just fine in my Subaru Forester. Parked at the river crossing, but in retrospect my car could have made it all the way to the 4wd TH for San Luis. Beautiful route.
Posted By: Hypersnow
Info: Minor snow patches to trailhead, easily passable with a four wheel drive vehicle.
Posted By: Jay521
Info: No problem with the creek crossings at all now. Saw a couple small SUV‘s at the trailhead. But the road is closed through the Equity mine - note the signs just before the mine that direct you to the bypass (which is in MUCH better shape than it was a few years ago).
Posted By: WheelerDealer
Info: Johnny Depp is gone and the West Willow Trailhead is back open! The recent thunderstorms have made the road pretty difficult past the equity mine, and the big creek crossing is pretty nasty. Maybe scout it before you commit. Keep an eye out for a family of moose in the area of Willow Creek.
Posted By: djkest
Info: Normal access to this trailhead is CLOSED. They currently have security barring access with County Sheriff backing them up. See recent PEAK CONDITIONS report for the workaround. We didn‘t know about the possible detour, so we had to drive 100+ miles to the Stewart Creek TH to hike San Luis Peak. They said it may be open again by the end of the month but you might want to call the county sheriff before you attempt to use this approach.
Posted By: gouldst
Info: The description is a bit dated and hard to follow, so here’s an update that hopefully users will find helpful. Going north out of Creede, stay left at the large display for the Bachelor Loop. This will take you through the Commodore mine complex. Road can be steep here, but it is in excellent shape and any car taller than a Corvette can use it. Next fork, stay left. The next turn is at the hairpin curve. Don’t go into the mine area in front of you, but follow the hairpin curve to the left. The next intersection is a four way - go straight at this intersection. Next landmark is the Equity Mine. You cannot go through the Equity Mine property, so you bear left onto a 4WD road here. A 2WD car can make to this point easily. The 4WD road is not bad - we made it easily with a Honda Pilot. I would NOT try it with any low clearance vehicle - there are several streams to cross and some washouts where a low clearance car would probably bottom out. The trailhead is pretty obvious and there is room for several vehicles to park.

Will try and post some pictures, but not having any luck with that.
Posted By: JMB
Info: Clear to Equity Mine. Impassable (by car) snow beyond.
Posted By: emcee smith
Info: The road north of Creede seemed to be blocked a bit above town at an old mine site; equipment was parked in the road. The Bachelor loop road is clear and dry up to the Equity mine site. Also clear to about 1/8 mile beyond the mine, where drifts still block the road.

The road was muddy, with some drifts up to the point where it crosses the creek. The creek is high, alternate trail on the east side of the creek, with some mild willow bashing.
Posted By: Dad Mike
Info: June 4, 2009...Roach‘s description is outdated and confusing. The bridge he refers to is the small bridge in the center of Creede and it is not labeled. It is not "south of creede" as he describes it. The north most of the 3 dirt roads past the bridge is now the only road of the three that is paved. When you see the cemetary sign...do not turn right...keep the sign on your right and go straight up the hill.

Conditions...We were able to get all the way up to the upper parking area...past the Equity mine...in a stock Jeep Liberty. The creek crossings were insignificant. The only difficulty was a mud pit 100 yards from the top. On the way down we helped pull a Range Rover out of it.
Posted By: JB99
Info: Passable to the 4wd trailhead. There is a major mudhole that is a couple hundred yards from the parking at the 4wd trailhead that is several feet deep and not worth the risk of driving through until things dry out quite a bit, a truck got stuck in it in it and I got my Cherokee stuck going around him in what turned out to be a nasty bog. 7 hours and a very helpful Creede local with an F250 got us out.
Posted By: elchivoloco
Info: Totally clear, dry, and graded to the Equity Mine / 2WD parking.
Posted By: Gahugafuga
Info: Despite rumors to the contrary, the road is not yet clear to the Equity Mine. 4WDs have punched through many smaller drifts, but 4-5‘ deep drifts still block the last mile of road.
Posted By: Chris P.
Info: As of Tuesday 5/15, the road was passable to just past Equity mine, within about a mile of the trailhead. The rest of the road appeared to be melting off quickly.
Posted By: scotthsu
Info: Clear and snow-free to 4WD parking at 11,500 ft.
passenger cars OK to Equity Mine, high clearance 4WD needed beyond.
Posted By: mjlucarelli
Info: Road is completely clear as of 9/24. I think any two wheel car could get to the trailhead via the 4x4 road with some easy manuevering around some large holes filled with water. But you may want high clearance two wheel drive just to be on the safe side.

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