Hiking

Just take a few steps from your accommodations and you’ll find yourself in a Rocky Mountain wonderland. From a quick stroll to Needle Rock or an all-day excursion into the West Elk Wilderness, hiking trails for all ages and abilities will lead you from one sweeping panorama to the next.

2- Hikers West Elk Wilderness

Bike & Hike to Needle Rock

The iconic, 800-foot-tall Needle Rock is one of Smith Fork Ranch’s most lovely sights. Want a closer look? Take a mountain bike 2.5 miles out to Needle Rock, then hike up the Needle Rock trail (one mile each way) to get a good view of the valley, then bike back to the compound. A perfect morning or afternoon adventure.

West Elk Wilderness

Just beyond the ranch, lies thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness. With several hiking options, you can explore the vast mountains with or without one of our experienced guides. On the trails you may see predator birds, eagles, bobcats, deer, elk, and bears.

5-Tater Heap
2-Deer by the River Pond

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The awe-inspiring Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is just a short drive from Smith Fork Ranch, and offers spectacular viewpoints along a wide array of hiking trails.  A key trail off the North Rim Ranger Station is Exclamation Point, which is about one mile each way and offers spectacular views of the canyon depths, the Gunnison River below, as well as excellent bird watching. Feel like hiking further? The North Vista Trail goes on for miles past Exclamation Point with varied terrain and a forest of Douglas Fir, Aspen, and Gamble Oak.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many trails are there for hiking?

Some of our best trails for hiking are also the horseback riding trails. (We won’t send you on a hike that is also being used by the horses at the same time) Let us know what you’re looking for and we can send you off in the best direction suited for you. We have well marked trail maps for you to take along as you enjoy the beauty of the West Elk Wilderness.

Do we need a guide to go hiking?

Hiking is one of our activities where a guide is optional. They will be happy to go with you, however if you’d like to venture off solo we can give you a trail map, point you in the right direction, and the trails are clearly marked to keep you on the right path.

How difficult are your hiking trails?

Hiking at the ranch can be challenging if you are not used to hiking at elevation. But the views and feeling of accomplishment are worth it! Be sure to bring plenty of water and stay hydrated. If you are looking something on the easier side, we will show you a couple trail options that may be more your style.