Willow Peak is at the northern end of the Spring Mountains of Southern Nevada. Willow Peak towers behind the mountain village of Cold Creek. This peak holds a lot of snow in the winter providing stunning scenery that can be seen clearly from Highway 95. This is because of some fires years ago that burnt down most all of the trees on the summit.
One can hike Willow Peak via two different routes. The more popular route is via the Bonanza Trail. Along this route there is some fun scrambling along the ridge. At one point you will hike right by a natural arch. Here is someone's personal trip to this arch.
A shorter, but much steeper route, is from Wheeler Pass. This route is approximately 3 miles round trip but with a little over 2300 feet elevation gain.
There are 2 routes one can take to hike Willow Peak. Depending on which route you want to take will determine which way to get to the trailhead.
1. If you want to hike Willow Peak via the Bonanza Trail and finish using your navigation skills along the ridge to the summit then follow these instructions to get to the Bonanza Trail trailhead.
Take HWY 95 North From Las Vegas past HWY 157 (Mt. Charleston turnoff) and then again past Lee Canyon Turnoff (HWY 156). The next road on the left, highly visible with prison complexes, is your turn off. Turn left here and drive about 15-20 miles to the community of Cold Creek. You will likely see many wild horses as you get close to Cold Creek. Stay on the main road until it turns into a dirt road near the base of Bonanza Peak (the large forested peak to the south). Follow the dirt road to the base of Bonanza Peak (Bonanza Trail trailhead). Park here.
2. If you would rather hike Willow Peak up the steep route from Wheeler Pass, then follow one of the 2 ways to get to Wheeler Pass.
1. Take HWY 95 North From Las Vegas past HWY 157 (Mt. Charleston turnoff) and then again past Lee Canyon Turnoff (HWY 156). The next road on the left, highly visible with prison complexes, is your turn off. Turn left here and drive about 15-20 miles to the community of Cold Creek. You will likely see many wild horses as you get close to Cold Creek. There will be a sign to turn right for Wheeler Pass. Right after this right turn there is a left very shortly after. Follow this road west and with a little trial and error you should eventually follow the route to Wheeler pass, visibly seen between Willow Peak and Wheeler Peak. The last 2 miles to the pass gets very bad and a 4X4 is definitely required!
2. Take I-15 south to HWY 160. Take HWY 160 towards Pahrump. Once you get to Pahrump turn right (east) onto Wheeler Pass Road and follow it to the summit of Wheeler Pass. There are many unofficial routes and tracks entering and leaving Wheeler Pass Road, so try to stay on the main road. There is no sign and no official trailhead at the summit of Wheeler Pass.
(Though this route is further from Las Vegas, it is easier and more straight forward than trying to find the route through Cold Creek). A high clearance vehicle is highly recommended. 4X4 even better.
No permits are required to hike Willow Peak.
When to Climb
Willow Peak can be climbed year-round. The route on the Bonanza Trail to the ridge will be very snowy in the winter and early spring due to its shady exposure. The route from Wheeler Pass however, is accessible throughout the year.
The first snow starts to fall around October and tends to linger until May.
Backcountry camping is allowed without a permit, however, wood fires are not.
Willow Creek Campground is in the Cold Creek area as well, but I have no information about it.