Although horseback riding is the main focus at the ranch we are ideally located for hiking either instead of riding or as a change of pace during your stay.
It is an easy hike to the beginning of the upper gorge about a mile up river from the ranch. The deep gorge with sheer cliffs over a thousand feet high winds on for about five miles before opening into the huge expanse of the East Fork Basin. There is a good trail to the beginning of the gorge, and you can climb up on the left hand side to visit the big horn sheep traps made of cedar by the Sheep Eater Indians 150 years ago.
A fascinating hike to an old Sheep Eater wickiup takes about two hours. It is tucked away up the river in a very remote, sheltered canyon. Another interesting destination is an old hideout used by Butch Cassidy in the 1890s, which is concealed in a thick stand of spruce beside a small stream. It is an ideal location for a hideout due to the lookout point with expansive views of the surrounding country, a hidden meadow for horses to graze and a hard-to-find escape route up the steep far side of the canyon. Hikers should allow about three hours for the trip, which is an easy walk along creek bottoms and open sagebrush country with little climbing.
In the opposite direction is a hike above the spectacular lower gorge. It begins with a steep climb, but you are rewarded by magnificent views across the valley of the Wind River Mountains. Occasionally big horned sheep have been seen in this area. There are several different choices of trails back to the ranch. The most interesting takes you through an old Indian campsite that is covered with chippings from the tools they crafted there. A little farther on is a vast area of colorful badlands. We often stop on our rides to view the petrified bones of the coryphodon, an early mammal that roamed here 45-60 million years ago. It is a comfortable hour and a half hike back to the ranch from this spot.
The Elk Horn Trail is an all day affair, as it will take you high into the mountains and deep into the wilderness where all motors have been banned. It is named for the blazes marking the path through the woods that are carved out in the form of an elk antler. In the days before World War II shepherds spent the summer here while their flocks grazed in the Alpine meadows and were periodically resupplied by pack trains carrying in essentials. You will need to drive 5 miles from the ranch to the trailhead and cross the East Fork of the Wind River, which is quite small at this point. The trail leads through the woods before breaking out on to a mile-long, beautiful meadow known as Shangri La. From Shangri La you head down a steep, wooded path and cross the river again. It is an easy walk back to the trailhead on a well marked trail maintained by the Forest Service.
The first real mountain above the ranch is Castle Rock which stands out as a landmark from most of the surrounding area. You will need a vehicle to drive closer to the base and then it is about a three hour climb to the top. From this vantage point, hikers frequently see elk herds while admiring the superb views of the Wind River Mountains and the Absarokas.
Another great hike requires a drive across the valley to the foot of the Wind River Mountains on the other side. On the way one can make a short detour to view some fascinating pre-Columbian Indian petroglyphs. The hike leads you up to Louise Lake, a journey that takes about an hour and a half from the roadhead. The lake is situated just below the magnificent glaciers that surround Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s highest mountain.