Cayton Trailhead


Historic log cabin in a field.

The Cayton Trailhead is located 20 miles south of Silt in the West Divide region of the Rifle Ranger District. The trailhead features the historic Cayton Ranger Station and provides access to Cayton Gulch Trail and Lake Fork Trail.

The Cayton Ranger Station is named for James Grimshaw Cayton, who was one of the nation’s first forest rangers. The Ranger Station is the second oldest building of its kind in the United States, having been built in 1910. James Cayton and his wife Birdie (a school teacher) built the cabin and were the first individuals to live in the structure. In addition to serving as James and Birdie’s home, the station functioned as the headquarters for managing what was then known as the Grand River Ranger District on the Battlement National Forest. James and Birdie conducted a variety of official activities while living and working at the Ranger Station, including: surveying boundaries, posting signs, building and repairing telephone lines, inspecting homestead claims, monitoring ranchers’ cattle, selling hunting licenses, and looking after the station’s garden and livestock.

The Cayton Ranger Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Today, visitors can interact with and learn about the Station in a variety of ways. Visitors can take a hike up Cayton Gulch, explore the grounds, or enjoy a picnic near the Station. Visitors can also look inside the interior of the cabin, which is still decorated as it appeared when James and Birdie lived on site. Interpretive brochures and posters available outside the Station provide information about the lives of James and Birdie, as well as the history of the structure.

The Forest Service manages this site in partnership with the Cayton Ranger Station Foundation. The Station is available for special events, and the Foundation also periodically hosts interpretive programming on the grounds. For more information, please contact the Rifle Ranger District at the phone number listed below.

At a Glance

Reservations: If you are interested in holding an event at the Ranger Station, contact the Rifle Ranger District or the Cayton Ranger Station Foundation.
Fees No fee
Usage: Light
Closest Towns: Silt, CO
Water: None
Restroom: Toilet on site
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Rifle Ranger District: 970-625-2371

General Information


From Silt, CO cross over Interstate 70 (at Exit 97) and turn left. After a short distance, turn right onto 16th Street (County Road 311), proceed over the Colorado River, and make another right onto Dry Hollow Road (County Road 331). Follow Dry Hollow Road for 7.5 miles and then bear left onto County Road 324. Follow County Road 324 for 1.5 miles and then turn right onto County Road 342 (Fairview Drive). Follow Fairview Drive for 3.2 miles and then turn left onto County Road 344. Proceed on County Road 344 for 8.5 miles (becomes Forest Road 800 at the Forest Boundary). Shortly after passing the roadside kiosk, turn right onto Forest Road 814 and proceed for 1/2 mile to the Ranger Station. Forest Road 814 is very rough and rutted.

As you drive from Silt to the Ranger Station, pay careful attention to road signs; there are numerous cross streets and driveways, and it is easy to get lost!

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