Elevation: 7,620 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Date of Climb: October 3, 2019
Willow Creek Peak is, in actuality, a subpeak of Joes Mountain to the northeast. It is not a ranked summit but is merely a bump on the ridge. It is separated from Joes Mountain by a broad, gentle saddle. It is easily climbed via FST-876 with a very short scrub scramble to the high point. USGS Mahogany Butte
Park at the [signed] junction of Trapper Creek Road/FSR-533 and Beaverdam Pass Road/FSR-535. This junction is located 6.4 miles west/up Trapper Creek Road from the Sawtooth National Forest boundary. The elevation here is 5,320 feet. Beaverdam Pass Road is a rough, badly-rutted dirt road only suitable to ATVs and HC 4WD vehicles. With the appropriate vehicle, you can drive all the way up to Beaverdam Pass and shorten this climb considerably. You must initially do a wide fording of Trapper Creek as there is no bridge or underground pipe here.
Northeast Face, Class 2
This is almost entirely a road/trail hike, but has a short scrub scramble to the summit. From the road junction, follow FSR-535 southward for 0.1 to Trapper Creek. Ford the L/E side of the cold creek where the water is shallowest. Once across the creek, hike up the road for about 3-3/4 miles to Beaverdam Pass (6,600 feet). This is cattle country, so be prepared for cow encounters, especially higher up. Just prior to reaching Beaverdam Pass, there is an unsigned road junction with FST-268, an ATV road/trail.
FST-268 is a real mess. It is badly rutted and is exceptionally muddy. I hiked it when the mud was dried but there were deep cattle and horse prints in the mud and the ruts were severe. When wet, this road is probably impassable even for an ATV. You would not want to hike this road in wet conditions either. Follow FST-268 up to a signed trail junction on the north side of Joes Mountain. Go L/S onto FST-876 and follow it up a very steep section to reach a forest of aspens and mountain mahogany. You will be grateful to be on an ATV trail here.
Follow FST-876 as it turns R/W and then subsequently bends L/S to skirt the West Face of Joes Mountain. The ATV trail eventually pops out in beautiful open terrain after passing the summit of Joes Mountain. FST-876 is now heading directly at Willow Creek Peak, which is quite visible from here. Continue hiking along FST-876 as it reaches a saddle and then climbs through a section of aspen forest on the Northeast Face of Willow Creek Peak. After the ATV trail emerges from the forest high up, leave the trail and scramble a short distance to the gentle summit of Willow Creek Peak. The high point is a collection of a few boulders and had no summit cairn.
USGS Map Errors on the Mahogany Butte Quadrangle:
There are some serious measurement errors on the USGS map for Joes Mountain and Willow Creek Peak, some of the worst I’ve ever seen. The USGS Mahogany Butte Quadrangle is missing the 7,200-foot contour line. The map uses the standard 200-foot bolded contour interval for the major contours (with 40-foot non-bolded contour intervals in between the major contour lines). The map jumps from 7,000 feet to 7,400 feet on the West Side of Joes Mountain. However, on the South Side of the mountain, the 7,200-foot contour line IS there. Confusing, eh?
Is the major contour line above 7,000 feet actually 7,200 feet rather than 7,400 feet? Who knows? If it is, then the elevations of both Joes Mountain and Willow Creek Peak are in error. The adjoining Ibex Peak Quadrangle DOES have a 7,200-foot contour line on Joes Mountain (the two quads each cover half of Joes Mountain) as does the South Side of Joes Mountain, so it appears that the elevation of Joes Mountain is 7,700 feet, not 7,500 feet. The elevation of Willow Creek Peak is, consequently, 7,620 feet rather than 7,420 feet. My altimeter confirmed the higher figures for each of these peaks. I did not take the time to run the GPS to render its assessment.