Hiking in the Bighorns

High alpine trails, luscious forest, and low desert landscapes. The Bighorns have some of the most diverse hiking options in the United States.

Trigger Lake in the Cloud Peak Wilderness.

Trigger Lake in the Cloud Peak Wilderness.

Shell Bench trail #138  in Shell Canyon.

Shell Bench trail #138 in Shell Canyon.

1,200 miles of trails.

Listing each trail and giving directions would nearly be impossible. So we will just recommend a few of our local favorites. For an entire list of hiking trails, visit the Bighorn National Forest website here. You can also purchase a Forest Service map at our front desk. Another great resource is hikingproject.com.

Tongue River canyon

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Tongue River Canyon is one of the most iconic hikes in Wyoming and is also home to world class fishing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. This formidable hike is 10 miles from start to finish (20 miles round trip) and offers stunning vistas of mountain terrain, diverse pine forest, and an abundance of wildlife to view. If you catch it in the fall, Tongue River Canyon’s most vibrant colors come out in full display. From the lodge, you can either walk down the canyon from the top, starting on Forest Service Road 196. You can also access the canyon from the town of Dayton, vie Tongue Canyon Road. For more information and directions, visit hikingproject.com.

Black mountain lookout

View from the summit looking northeast.

View from the summit looking northeast.

Walk along thick lodgepole and spruce pine forests in one of the most rewarding hikes in Wyoming. Once you reach the summit of 9,400 feet, panoramic views of the Bighorns and Wyoming prairie reveal themselves. The old fire lookout perched on the summit is the perfect resting ground to soak in the views. To the east, you’ll see the lowlands, which includes the city of Sheridan. In the West, you’ll observe the Bighorn high country where the Elk and Moose thrive. South, the Cloud Peak Wilderness, most likely still snow covered, will reveal their 13,000 feet peaks. To the north, Steamboat Point and the Tongue River Canyon seem small as you stand thousands of feet above them. For directions and hike details, visit hikingproject.com.

Steamboat point

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Steamboat is a short, steep hike, taking approximately 30 minutes to complete. This 500 foot cliff offers one of the most rewarding views in the Bighorns as you overlook the Tongue River Canyon to the north, the city of Sheridan to the east, Black Mountain to the west, and the Cloud Peak Wilderness to the south. To get here from Arrowhead, just hang a right out of the lodge onto the Bighorn Scenic Byway and drive for about 10 minutes. It’s extremely hard to miss. Prior to becoming a popular hiking trail, this point served as a fire lookout in the early 20th century. Remnants of the old building can still be found near the cliffs edge. For a more information, visit hikingproject.com

Lake geneva

Fishing is also popular here.

Fishing is also popular here.

Unlike the other hikes we listed, you will need a good 4x4 vehicle to reach the trailhead. This stunning hike in the Cloud Peak Wilderness is a good warm up for the longer, more scenic wilderness hikes the Bighorns offer. The nine mile hike winds its way through thick pine forest and comes out at Lake Geneva. The history behind this trail is as legendary as the scenery it surrounds itself by. Gold seekers, lumberjacks, and Native Americans once roamed here seeking riches and spirits. Old cabins and remnants of 19th century mining equipment are scattered along the trail. Watch out for moose! Lake Geneva’s shallow waters are an oasis for moose. For hiking details and directions, visit hikingproject.com