About the West Elk Trails

Brought to you by West Elk Trails Inc
in partnership with the White River National Forest, Rifle Ranger District

West Elk Trails Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our grooming program costs about $550 per week from December through March. 60% of our funding comes from government grants, including Garfield County & local municipalities. Those funds are predicated on matching user financial support. We rely heavily — 40% of our budget — on user donations to sustain our grooming program year after year.

Donate today with PayPal

$75/Family (couples)

Click here to donate by check

Thank you!

Driving directions to West Elk trailhead

Print West Elk trail map

West Elk Trails Etiquette & Rules

Since 2002, West Elk Trails Inc (formerly West Elk Multi-Use Club) has marked, maintained, and promoted trails in Colorado’s White River National Forest, north of Rifle, Silt, and New Castle, for cross country skiing, snowshoes, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. Multi-use is a key management principle for the US Forest Service. West Elk Trails Inc has a Special Use Permit with the White River National Forest Rifle Ranger District to install trail marker signs and groom cross country ski trails along a 3-loop winter trail system, approximately 12 miles in length, starting on Forest Road 819, on the Buford Road, which is located in the Flat Tops mountain range, west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The West Elk Trails are a no-fee area. However voluntary donations are encouraged to help cover the costs of grooming operations. Maps and donation cards are available at the trailhead during the winter months. Trails are maintained and groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing beginning as soon as snow depths reach 12-18 inches, approximately December through March — always weather permitting.

Dogs are welcome on the trails. Please keep your pets under control and bury the waste in the snow. No dog poop bags. No garbage cans at the trailhead. Pack out your trash.

How to Get There

From New Castle: North on 7th Street which turns into Buford Road(245), past East Elk Road & Main Elk Road. Turn R past the sign for West Elk at junction of Buford Road(245) and Grass Valley Road(226). Stay on 245 to the Trail Head Parking Lot. Total Distance:  16 miles

From Silt: North on 7th Street which turns into Peach Valley Road(214) to Silt Mesa Road(233). Turn L on 233 to Gott Road(261). Turn R on 261 to Bendetti Road(250). Turn L on 250 to Harvey Gap Road(237). Turn R on 237 to Grass Valley Road(226). Turn R on 226 to Cutoff Road(247). Turn L on 247 to New Castle/Buford Road(245). Turn L on 245 to the Trailhead Parking Lot. Total Distance:  17 miles

From Rifle: North on CO Hwy 13 to CO Hwy 325. Turn R on 325 past Rifle Gap to Grass Valley Road(226). Turn R on 226 to Cutoff Road(247). Turn L on Cutoff Road to New Castle/Buford Road(245). Turn L on 245 to the Trailhead Parking Lot. Total Distance:  22 miles

New Castle, Silt, and Rifle are all accessible from I-70 west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

West Elk Trails Inc

West Elk Trails Inc is a non-profit 501(c)3, all volunteer organization that grooms and maintains winter trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoes. Trail users provide support through membership and volunteering. Trail users’ donations are needed to help with expenses such as insurance and trail maintenance cover the costs of grooming operations during the winter ski season.

West Elk Trails Inc welcomes new members!

Bruce Kime, Executive Director

Tod Tibbetts, Treasurer and Head Groomer

Peggy Tibbetts, Secretary
PO Box 129
Silt, CO 81652

Email: wemuc@siltnet.net

Driving directions to West Elk trailhead

Print West Elk trail map

West Elk Trails Etiquette & Rules


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16 Responses to “About the West Elk Trails”

  1. Mark Ruehmann

    Hi, Love this area, Its great that you’re such great stewards. Where is dorthys view and where are you thinking of putting the sledding hill?

    Now that they’re plowing the snow differently the small place to sled with kids off the main road is ruined.

    If you need labor in helping with the trails let me know.

    • Peggy Tibbetts

      Dorothy’s view is located on Kay’s Loop, follow the fence line from the field, up the hill through the aspens, then it opens up to a view spot, that’s Dorothy’s View — look for the sign on the tree right hand side of trail. Don’t know who put the sign there or when but there it is.

      The sledding hill is planned for the open area where the ginzugroomer is parked along Hwy 819. We need to get the 3 groomers together at the same time in order to get it done. I will pass along your offer to help to the team. Thanks!

  2. cathie werkman

    Have the trails been groomed yet this year? Thanks for the great job you do each year. We love the trails.

  3. Peggy Tibbetts

    Update on the Trail – West Elk Trail is in a multi-use area and big game rifle hunting season is still active. Once the snow is too deep to drive vehicles on forest road 819, we can start packing the trail and getting it ready for grooming. The target to start setting the trail is the Thanksgiving holiday, but that is weather dependent. An update will be posted this weekend.

  4. TeresA minami

    Very interested in joining in ,where can i pickup trail maps? So happyto find you & ingomation.

    • Peggy Tibbetts

      Maps are available at the trailhead and on this blog page under FYI just click on West Elk Trail Map

  5. Alison B

    We had an absolute blast and can’t wait to go back! Blue bird skies, lovely afternoon winter temps, complete solitude. The doggies were beyond ecstatic to run. I have to say that as a Fat Biker, XC skier and dog enthusiast, it’s nice to have a trail system that is all inclusive, instead of exclusive.

  6. Alison B

    Peggy, Question! Do you all ever groom the Jame’s trail with the little groomer? Just curious! It was definitely more tight/single track style yesterday.

  7. Peggy Tibbetts

    We don’t have a “little groomer.” We do run a snowmobile track to the top of he hill but the snow is too deep down in the ravine, the snowmobile gets stuck. James’ Loop is our back country trail for snowshoers. Snowboarders also use James’ Loop to access the back country.

  8. Tony Treleven

    Hi, I just want to ask are fat bikes okay on this trail system? It says no wheeled vehicles until May, and I assume that means motorized, but I would rather be respectful and ask than assume anything. If so, I look forward to becoming a member! Thanks!

    • Bruce Kime

      Hi Tony. My name is Bruce Kime and I am a volunteer board member with the West Elk Trails. Thanks for asking about fat bike access. The board has discussed welcoming fat bikes to the trails several times, and we decided to ask bike riders to stay off the groomed trails, and to use the Buford Road. The Buford Road, from the parking lot, gets heavily packed by snow machines, which would be a better surface.
      Please spread the word to your friends. Currently the US Forest Service permits us to groom the trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and winter biking is not on the permit.
      On another note, last season we had a huge problem with hikers (no snowshoes or skis) on the trails, sometimes in large groups. Foot traffic post-holes the trails and totally ruins our grooming, thus effecting our grooming hours and costs to WET budget. We plan on having signage at the trailhead directing hikers to the Buford Road and also to our 820 Forest Service road (part of James’s Loop), which we will snowmobile pack.
      Hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you on the trails. Bruce

  9. Doc Kunstadter

    MAD Doc here (= Love the trails!!!!!!!!!!!!! As far as Fat Bikes on snow……………….John Klish, the original MAD Man of MAD Racing….Mountain and Desert Racing out of GJ will be hosting two Fat Tire races at Powderhorn…..MADHORN Fat Bike Series….first MAD”er”Horn race Feb 25…….Slope Side Fat Bike Race…………. check out all MAD events @madracingcolorado.com and facebook.com/madracingevents

  10. Mary Gervais

    Hi -we love that you are doing this. Just mailed membership. How often are you able to set a track? How often do you generally groom? Thanks Mary

  11. Peggy Tibbetts

    Grooming and setting track depend on how many volunteers we have available after a snowstorm. We make every effort to pack, groom, and/or set track on a weekly basis depending on the amount of helpers we have.

  12. Mary Gervais

    Hi Peggy. We are a bit confused about where it is OK for folks to be without skis or snowshoes. We understand this is a perennial problem for all groomed trail systems, not just West Elk.
    We were skiing earlier this week and folks were walking in boots around Kay’s Loop. We asked them if they understood that these trails were for skiers or snowshoers only. They replied that folks could walk “all along the outside trail” and that only the inside trails required skis or snowshoes. Another person we reminded/asked, who was post-holing along in boots, said that “walkers are OK until they get to a sign that said skis required, just in a few junctions. Yet another said that the skis/snowshoes only sign was only on the right fork, not the left (Kay’s/Eric’s). What is proper etiquette for reminding folks not to walk on trails? Where is walking allowed, if anywhere?
    We checked signs and it is possible to skip reading the paragraph on the sign at the parking lot, then go a long way without seeing a skis/snowshoes required sign. If no walking is allowed on Kay’s or Eric’s, then we need more signs. Marty and I would volunteer to put up 10 or so signs in key places if West Elk could supply us with signs and laths. We will even come and pick them up. Thanks! Mary

  13. Cross Country Skiing on the Flat Tops - Sunshine with Savannah

    […] Tops Wilderness Area. We found a spot that welcomes skiers, snowshoers, and even pups, called the West Elk Trail System. We had a blast and quite the workout (seriously, I was sweating through my layers), and enjoyed […]

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