Upper Layout Creek Trail

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 4 miles round trip from the corrals, 1.7 miles round trip from the end of the gravel to the spring

Erastus T. Ewing came to Bighorn Canyon looking for gold. Finding none he decided to try his hand at ranching. He knew that to make it in this arid land he would need water. On April 8, 1897 he filed with Carbon County in Red Lodge, Montana to appropriate 200 inches of water per year from Layout Creek for irrigation, mining and milling.

While hiking the Upper Layout Creek Trail, you may see evidence of irrigation systems Erastus and his son, Lee, built and improved upon. In suceeding years, other inhabitants built holding ponds and added more ditch systems. Residents of the ranch used irrigation to water grain and hay fields, orchards, and gardens.

From the park road, immediately beyond the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range boundary, a historic site marker directs you to the Ewing/Snell Ranch. The Upper Layout Creek trail begins in the parking area right of the corrals. You may begin hiking here or drive to the end of the gravel.

The road ends in a small parking area and the trail begins to follow trail markers down to Layout Creek. It crosses a culvert and picks up the trail on the south side of the creek. The trail winds up Layout Creek Canyon past the waterfall to Layout Creek Springs. This lush secluded canyon offers a striking contrast to the surrounding arid plateau and emphasizes the importance of water to the land.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters Office
PO Box 7458

Fort Smith, MT 59035


(307) 548-5406

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