About 40 minutes north of Silt is The West Elk Trailhead, a year-round recreation destination that provides motorized and non-motorized trails on the southwest edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The area is ideal for those looking to snowshoe, cross country ski, and snowmobile in the winter months, and ride OHV’s in the summer months. The trailhead is located along Forest Road 245 (Buford-New Castle Road) approximately 7.5 miles north of the Forest boundary. The parking area has room for several dozen passenger vehicles and trailers.
The trailhead serves as the southern access point for Motorized Trail #2290, also known as the Buford-New Castle Parallel Trail. During the winter, the trailhead is one of the access points to the Flat Tops snowmobile trail system, providing parking for snowmobilers who wish to follow the Buford-New Castle Road. The trailhead also provides parking for the West Elk non-motorized trail system, which is located immediately east of the parking area.
The Flat Tops Wilderness Area is the third largest U.S. Wilderness Area in Colorado at 235,214 acres, with 38,870 acres in Routt National Forest and 196,344 acres in White River National Forest. It takes about 35 minutes to travel from Downtown Silt to the top of the Flat Tops, with the wilderness area providing a gamut of outdoor recreation opportunities like camping, fishing, OHV, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, roads for scenic drives, and wildlife viewing. There are numerous mountains, meadows, canyons and over 100 lakes on the Flat Tops – it is truly one of the most magnificent regions of the Rocky Mountains.
Located about 20 miles south of Silt is the Cayton Trailhead, which features the historic Cayton Ranger Station and provides access to Cayton Gulch Trail and Lake Fork Trail. The Cayton Ranger Station is named after James Grimshaw Cayton, who was one of the nation’s first forest rangers. The Ranger Station is the second oldest building of its kind in the United States, having been built in 1910.