Fishing is excellent in the pristine South Fork of the Salmon River, right out the front door. The South Fork receives very little fishing pressure in the vicinity of the ranch because of the remote location. You can fish for native cutthroat trout during the summer months, fly fishing with dry flies and nymphs, and then focus on steelhead – ocean-going rainbow trout -- in the fall and early spring. Chinook salmon swim upriver in early summer, but the fishing season is short.
The primary hiking and horseback trunk trail runs along the length of the South Fork of the Salmon River, from the trailhead near Yellow Pine to the Mackay Bar Guest Ranch on the Main Salmon – River of No Return, a distance of about 35 miles. It’s about 12 miles from the South Fork Wilderness Ranch to Mackay Bar, your closest neighbors. There are many other hiking and horseback trails in the vicinity, including trails that climb into the highest mountains in the Payette National Forest.
Similar to the benefits of fishing, the remoteness of the ranch makes for outstanding big game hunting. People can hunt for mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, bear, mountain lion and wolves during the fall hunting seasons. Horses and mules can be a necessity for accessing high-mountain hunting areas and packing out big game.
It’s also fun to chase quail, doves, grouse and chukar partridge in the fall. The birds are often concentrated next to the river in the willows and shrubs. Chukars run up the mountain side and chatter at you in the rocks, taunting you to chase them.
There are literally hundreds of miles of dirt roads, two-track roads and ATV trails in the Payette National Forest. The Smith Knob dirt road leading into the South Fork Wilderness Ranch can be used as an ATV trail to travel to the old mining town of Warren and more remote mountain destinations such as Burgdorf Hot Springs. It’s 42 miles of backcountry road – one-way from Warrren – to the ranch.