Groomed trail
No
Elevation Gain
674.00 ft (205.44 m)
Distance
8.20 mi (13.20 km)
Warming hut
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Willow Creek is one of Lander’s two nearby cross country ski trail systems, located a few miles beyond the groomed Beaver Creek ski area down Hwy 28 if traveling away from Lander. Look for a large pullout parking lot on the north side of the highway directly across from the turn toward South Pass City. If you pass the Rock Shop Inn (the only building cluster in a long way), you’ve gone slightly too far.

Willow Creek is a step up from Beaver Creek for those looking for a little more adventure to their cross country outing.  Many of these trails are plowed but not groomed, making it prime territory to practice a different set of skills. In fact, the plow tracks can actually make for non optimal trail conditions, especially on a handful of the steepest slopes where the plow truck can chew up the ground trying to get traction on the uphill side.

All in all, the extensive trail network has something for everyone. From flat plowed tracks to steeper hills to untracked backcountry fields, it’s a good place for skiers to cut their backcountry teeth on relatively easy terrain. With frequent blue trail markers and even the occasional directional arrow trees, you can feel confident in aimlessly wandering without risk of every truly getting lost.

For a good half day circuit that will take you over some of Willow’s best trails, start by going left at the first fork. As the flat, open prairie gives way to the more forested terrain. Continue to take the left forks at the many intersections you come to until you reach a T-junction in an open meadow (42.49350N, 108.82978W).  Turn right here, unless you want to connect to the nearby Rock Shop Inn by going left.

Just beyond this T-junction, you’ll reach another split, visible from the first.  The leftmost trail here is a short route to a weather collection station that does not continue further. Instead of taking this left, go right once more. The next trail junction leads to one of the most fun hill loops on the trail. Go left followed by a near immediate right (to ski the loop in the most fun direction). It’s a steep climb followed by a long blissful coast downhill back to your point of origin.

After that, continue taking the leftmost forks to essentially do a complete loop around the Willow area, eventually leading you back to that initial flat prairie and a brief section of backtracking to the parking lot.

Again, this is just one of many different paths one can take in the Willow Area. Visitors may find themselves wishing they had more time to experience all the trails, and even locals will usually find something new to be discovered.

One note: Be mindful of a small square of private property with a couple cabins in the middle of the area. This land is obviously fenced off but make sure you respect the property owners. Wyoming folk don’t take kindly to trespassers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Variety in terrain and difficulty. Various tracks and loops. Low congestion. Usually lots of snow

Cons

Occasionally poor trail condition from plow. Potential high winds.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

8,265.00 ft (2,519.17 m)

Highest point

8,478.00 ft (2,584.09 m)

Features

Family friendly
Wildlife

Trail type

Loop

Typically multi-day

No

Snowmobiles allowed

No

Location

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