Over all, North Fork Swan River 4WD trail is a bit tougher than its sister, Middle Fork
. They both offer tight, rocky forest roads, a taste of mining history, and epic alpine views. While Middle Fork's crux has a much more challenging optional rock climb, North Fork is rougher throughout and has a couple of unavoidable obstacles.
The two trails together, along with a short section of Saints John Road
, make a fine loop. Or either of them can be combined with Saints John or Deer Creek
to connect Breckenridge to Montezuma.
North Fork Swan can be done in a good, high-clearance, stock truck with a skilled driver. The tallest rock obstacle (at waypoint 5) can be bypassed by narrower rigs, but full size trucks will have to clear the 18" rocker panel biter. Full size trucks will also need a bit more nerve to get through the V-notch (waypoint 6). And, naturally, wet or snowy conditions will bump up the difficulty a notch or two for everyone.
Note: The .gpx track offered here takes the easiest route. As noted in the waypoint descriptions below, there are some more challenging lines that will deviate a bit, but should end up back on the track after the obstacle. Enjoy the challenge, but please stay the trail!
Cellphone signal will be spotty to nonexistent throughout this trail.
The nearest emergency room is at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center (970-668-3300), located just off CO-9 south of Frisco. Summit County Sheriff office (970-453-2232) is on CO-9 in Breckenridge.