Round Trip Distance: 0.7 miles
Elevation: 7035 - 7180 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Elk Ridge Campground
Attractions: Forest hike, deer,
The Wapiti trail is located in Ridgway State Park between Montrose and Ridgway, Colorado. The trail begins on the mountain overlooking Ridgway Reservoir near the Elk Ridge Campground and descends a pleasant hard packed path to the Visitor Center near the parks entrance. Wapiti is a word used by some Indian tribes for elk. Its meaning is 'white rump'. The word elk actually came into use by European explorers that thought that due to the animals large size it was a moose.
For this post we begin at the upper end of the Wapiti trail where it departs from the Loop E area of the Elk Ridge Campground. Typically you would either walk or ride your bike to this point from your campsites or from one of the other trails in the area as there isn't a parking area at the trailhead. There is parking at the lower end of the trail at the Visitor Center.
The trail starts out heading south along the top of the hill paralleling the campground.
As the trail begins descending the mountain it makes use of a series of long sweeping switchbacks.
For the most part the trail maintains a gentle descent and never does get very steep.
As the trail passes through the trees you are more likely to encounter deer than elk during the summer months.
At the base of the hill the Wapiti trail meets up with the Pinyon Park trail which runs along the base of the mountain enroute to the Dutch Charlie boat launch area.
A short distance past that intersection is another one where the Cookie Tree trail is encountered.
From the Cookie Tree trail you can continue for another hundred yards or so to the Visitor Center.
From the Visitor Center you can access the Forest Discovery Nature trail or the Overlook Point trail. The Mule Deer Meadow trail departs from the east end of the parking area and leads over to the Dutch Charlie Campground and the other trails in that area. If you are looking for a big loop that will take you back up to the Elk Ridge Campground then follow the Pinyon Park trail to the Twin Fawn trail and take that one to return up the mountain. The route up the Twin Fawn trail is much steeper than the Wapiti trail so if you do want to do the loop you might consider doing it in the other direction. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.