The Wild West Trail (WWT) begins in Nevada and traverses the entire state of Idaho. It then turns east, following the Pacific Northwest Trail into Montana. From Glacier National Park it travels south through some of the largest wilderness areas in the country.
Finally, the WWT reaches Wyoming, where the trail takes hikers through the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Hiking the Wild West Trail must be done during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. The snowpack is too heavy in the mountains to allow for winter hiking.
The last weeks of May or the first weeks of June are the best times to start the hike. We recommend starting in Nevada and crossing the Owyhee desert in the Spring, avoiding the hottest time of year. This timeline gives enough time for the snow to melt in the Sawtooths.
It is important not to begin too late in the year. Snow can come early in Yellowstone and the Tetons, sometimes mid-September.
The Wild West Trail is a culmination of trails, including the Continental Divide Trail and the Idaho Centennial Trail. Instead of following a north to south trajectory, it instead makes a horseshoe shape, in order to stay inside wilderness areas.
While it is not a nationally recognized trail, we feel strongly that it will become a popular long distance hike and reduce some of the crowds on both the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail.
Water caches are necessary to ensure a safe and successful desert crossing. The goal of the Wild West Trail is to use a myriad of revenue streams in order to support water drops. You can read more about supporting the trail here.
However, if you are planning either the Idaho Centennial Trail or Wild West Trail in the spring of 2018, contact us. We will be burying water for the inaugural hike and will help you out if possible!
Yes! The Wild West Trail follows existing trails for its entirety. Over 91% of the trail is on federal land. You do not need to worry about trespassing or breaking laws of any kind.
The Wild West Trail is about 2000 miles long. This makes it shorter than the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. However, it does go through extreme wilderness areas and many of the trails have not seen maintenance in perhaps decades.
Without nearly as much signage as some other trails, hikers must be able to navigate with maps and GPS. Inside the Idaho wilderness, airdrops are required to be used.
Apart from the remote logistical planning, hiking the trail is similar to any other long distance hike.
Yes. There are black bears on every section of the trail except the Owyhee desert. We strongly recommend hanging a bear bag in all sections with bears present.
In the Idaho panhandle, the majority of Montana and all of Wyoming, the trail stays in grizzly country. For this section of hiking, all food must be properly stored safely in bear canisters or hung from bear bags. It is imperative that every hiker takes grizzly bears seriously.
We also recommend carrying bear spray. While humans are not on a grizzly bear’s shortlist of prey, staying prepared protects both you and the life of the bear.
Absolutely! We encourage everyone to hike a section of the Wild West Trail. Because planning a multi-month thru-hike can be impossible for some, section hiking is the next best way to experience America’s wilderness.
Download a complete GPX file of the trail here. You can use it for the sections that interest you.
Upon completion of the trail in 2018, we will be offering complete maps of every section. Contact us here and stay up to date with the latest news.