Best Day Hikes in the Wind River Range

Customers looking to spend a day acclimating, often ask:

“What’s a good day hike”?

The Wind River Range is massive, remote, and mostly known to backpackers doing multi-day trips or long distance hikes. However,  the south side of the Wind River Range accessed from Pinedale has amazing public access! The Wilderness area is bordered completely by Forest Service and BLM lands with 10 major trailheads and 3 lodges located almost directly adjacent to trailheads, with several more lodges just down the road. Pinedale is a great place to base out of and day hike the south side of the Winds.    Several of the trailheads are not too far from Town making for quick access.

Interactive GOTCO Map of Trailheads, Lodges, and Services

#1 Halfmoon Lake Inlet or #2 Fayette Lake

Trailhead: Halfmoon Lake, ~ 3 miles RT to inlet, 6 miles RT to Fayette

Elevation: 7600ft to 7956 ft (Fayette) +- 356 ft

Hands down my favorite after work hike. It’s close to town, short, flat, and there’s a lake to jump into if you get too hot!  From Pine Street, turn north onto Fremont Lake Road by Ridley’s Grocery store, follow this road for about 7 miles, turn right onto FR 743, there’s a big  Half Moon Lake Lodge sign, follow this dirt road all the way to the lodge about 2 miles and park. The trailhead is about a 1/4 mile past the lodge, but the road washed out last year, during run-off. The USFS has not fixed it yet, and it is not passable by vehicle, but you can walk past it to the trail (about 30 minutes from Pinedale).

The trail starts out winding through large conifer trees and up a small hill, then opens up into sagebrush and rocky hillside and parallels the lakeshore which is steep and rocky. Follow it around and you will end up at the inlet to the lake after about 1.5 miles, where you can turn around and head back. When you are almost back to the trailhead turn towards the lake before you go up the hill through the conifers, there is small 5-6 foot cliff band you can jump into the refreshing water!!

If you want more, you can cross the narrowest part of the inlet in lower water and continue following the trail another 1.5 miles to Fayette Lake. Sometime ago, someone carried a canoe up there, which they left for the benefit of the public to use and take care of.

Bonus BEERS available at Halfmoon Lake Lodge when open (New owners in 2019! Hurray, we are excited to see what they have in store!)

halfmoon

Beach at Halfmoon Trailhead

#3 Sacred Rim or #4 Photographers Point

Trailhead: Elkhart Park ~ 3 miles RT to Sacred, 10 miles RT to Photographer’s

Elevation: 9300ft to 10,095 feet (Photographers) +- 795ft

From Pine Street, turn north onto Fremont Lake Road by Ridley’s Grocery store, follow this road for about 15 miles, past the Halfmoon turn, past White Pine Ski Area, all the way to the end Park at Pole Creek Trail (about 30 minutes from Pinedale).

Pinedale’s most popular day hike! It is close to town, short, flat, and spectacular! Take the Pole Creek Trail next to the large parking lot and restrooms. The trail is well worn and winds through somewhat thick forest, hike for about a 1/2 mile, there is no sign (bonus points!), but you will see a trail that heads north take and hike another 1/2 miles through a lot of downfall. You will come to 1000ft drop looking down at Long Lake and Fremont Peak, SPECTACULAR! If you want more hike back to the main trail and head east for another 4 miles until you see Eklund and Barbara Lakes, another SPECTACULAR view, and the trail heads north to Titcomb basin, you’ve made it to Photographer’s Point!

Bonus BEERS available at Lakeside Lodge

 

sacred rim

Sacred Rim looking down at Long Lake

#5 Long Lake Loop

Trailhead: Elkhart Park ~ 5 miles RT to Long Lake 8 miles RT to Loop

Elevation: 9300ft to 8475 ft (Long Lake) +- 825 ft

From Pine Street, turn north onto Fremont Lake Road by Ridley’s Grocery store, follow this road for about 15 miles, past the Halfmoon turn, past White Pine Ski Area, all the way to the end Park at Trail’s End Trailhead (about 30 minutes from Pinedale).

For those looking to get a work-out look no further. Long Lake is close to town, short, STEEP, and spectacular. Once at Elkhart Park, continue past the main parking area, past the campground towards the stock pens, park at this parking lot to access Trails End. The trail heads straight downhill from the parking lot through the forest with switchbacks for about 2.5 miles to the bottom of Pine Creek Canyon. You can go off-piste and check out the lake, turn around and head back up or continue towards Glimpse Lake (FYI wicked steep) around the loop to the back of Fremont Lake then back up!

Bonus BEERS available at Lakeside Lodge

#9 Blueberry Lake

Trailhead: Boulder Lake, 4 miles RT

Elevation: 7300 ft to 8476 ft (Blueberry) +- 1,175 ft

From Pinedale head south on Highway 191 to Boulder 11 miles turn left at the Store onto Highway 353 proceed for 2 miles to the Boulder Lake turnoff, turn left onto County Road 125 follow dirt road for 10 miles to Boulder Lake Campground and Trailhead (about 1 hour from Pinedale).

Take the Ruff Lake trail which you access from the back of the campground, after 1/2 mile or so you will begin a steep uphill ascent the trail will fork turn right and proceed towards Blueberry another 1.5 miles or so.

Bonus BEERS available at Boulder Lake Lodge  or head back to the Boulder Store for beers (Boulder Lake Lodge is between managers, not sure it’s open for 2019?)

boulderlake

Boulder Lake Road

#6 Clear Creek Natural Bridge or #7 Fish Bowl Spring or#8 Green River Lake Loop

Trailhead: Green River Lakes, 8 miles RT Clear Creek, 10.5 miles RT to Fish Bowl, 6 miles RT Lake Loop (by itself)

Elevation: 8000 ft to 8400 ft (Clear)  9490 feet (Fish) +- 1,490 ft

From Pinedale head west on Highway 191 6 miles to the Cora Y, turn north onto Highway 352 for ~27 miles the pavement will end at the National Forest Boundary, proceed on the dirt road for ~18 miles to the trailhead (about 1.5 hours from Pinedale).

natural brudge

Natural Bridge

A well worn, flat trail with OUTSTANDING views of the lake and Square top mountain. Proceed from the trailhead on the north side of the lake for 2 miles turn north towards Clear Creek, which you parallel for another 2 miles to the bridge.  For Fish Bowl head up the Clear Creek trail for a bout 3/4 of mile turn right on the Slide Lake Trail proceed about 2.5 miles to Fish Bowl Springs. Hikers choice; backtrack to the trailhead or if you want more proceed up trail at the Clear Creek intersection head east towards  the inlet lake to Green River Lakes. You will come to an intersection  cross the Green River and head down the south side of Green River Lake back to the Trailhead.

Bonus BEERS available at Kendall Valley Lodge or The Place (Open in 2019!)

Wind River Range

Fall time Green River Lakes looking at Square Top Mountain

CDT Gateway Community

Chamber photo

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Teresa Martinez, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Tel. 540-449-4506 tmartinez@continentaldividetrail.org

PINEDALE, WYOMING DESIGNATED FIRST CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL GATEWAY COMMUNITY IN WYOMING

PINEDALE,WY (FEBRUARY 19, 2016) – On February 19, 2016, the Town of Pinedale, Wyoming signed their official proclamation designating the Town as the first Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community in Wyoming.

The Continental Divide Trail Community designation program is a program of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition that seeks to benefit the communities along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT), which are considered assets by CDT travelers, and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program recognizes these communities for their part in promoting awareness of the CDT as an important national, regional, and local resource.

Designation as a Continental Divide Trail Community and participation in the program is aimed to:

  • Engage community citizens, Trail visitors and stewards
  • Thank communities for their decades of service to hikers
  • Act as a catalyst for enhancing sustainable economic development
  • Aid local municipalities and regional areas with conservation planning
  • Help local community members see the Trail as a resource and asset

“The Continental Divide Trail Coalition is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Continental Divide Trail,” stated Teresa Martinez, Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “These new partnerships will increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning as well as support healthy lifestyles for community citizens.”

Mayor of Pinedale, Bob Jones said “The Town of Pinedale is proud to be designated as a gateway to one of our country’s most beautiful assets, the Wind River Range. We look forward to hosting visitors on an adventure of a lifetime.”

Regarding the designation Rachel Grimes, Executive Director of the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce reflected, “The CDT gateway community designation is a tremendous win for Pinedale! Not only is this designation an opportunity to showcase one of our area’s most cherished assets, the Wind River Mountains, it also offers an opportunity to share our local history, culture and heritage. CDT enthusiasts flock to our small mountain town in summer months to rest, resupply and socialize; all the while supporting local business and boosting the overall economy. As the first community in the state to achieve this designation, I believe this is something all of Wyoming can be proud of!”

Maureen Rudnick, Pinedale Travel and Tourism shared “the impact of Continental Divide Trail Coalition Community designation on our community has grown into something far more valuable than I could imagine. When I embarked upon the process it was with the intent to promote our community, assist trail goers, and bolster our long term economy. After a fairly sizeable hiccup within our community, I feel a totally unexpected and wonderful outcome to this process is underway. For the first time in a long time I feel a sense of pride in our community’s ability to come together to do something so important for so many. I admire everyone who chose to overlook tensions and differences to make this happen.  In my opinion, the best result of this process is that it has started a transformation in our community bringing diverse organizations and individuals together with a common goal.”

Local community resident, Ric Samulski shared what the designation means to him as a resident of Pinedale- “The CDT Gateway Community designation would formally recognize Pinedale, Wyoming as being a backpacking mecca and the jumping off point into the world class  Wind River Range.”

And finally, Laura Hattan, who owns the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale with her husband Josh, and who has been instrumental in the designation shared, “The Wind River Range is our backyard; the visitors coming here to experience it are like old friends, united as we are by this enormous mountain range that spans over 100 miles along the Continental Divide. From CDT through-hikers and cyclists doing the Tour Divide bike race, to fishermen, climbers, and multi-week excursionists, there is truly something for everyone in the Wind River Range. It is only fitting that we as a community celebrate such diversity by welcoming all who come, for whatever pursuit, to this Gateway to Adventure we call home. This designation is an important step in opening the doors of exploration to even more people in our area, whether they are lifelong residents of Pinedale, or some of the thousands of travelers from around the world who come here to experience this breathtaking area for themselves. Becoming a CDT Gateway Community preserves the strong integrity of our mountain town for generations to come, and encourages new people to experience all that nature has to offer.”

On Saturday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m., the designation ceremony will take place at the American Legion Park in Pinedale, WY. During the ceremony, the Town of Pinedale will celebrate their Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community designation and welcome travelers in the midst of hiking over 3,000 miles along the Continental Divide, those who enjoy shorter sections of the CDT, as well as local citizens who use the iconic Trail.  An event celebrating and with formal presentations of the official Gateway Community Signs and Banners will be held in July, all are welcome to attend. The event will a feature live a performance by Laney Jones and the Spirits. Laney was recently recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as a “New Artist You Need to Know.” Local singer/songwriter Jason Tyler Burton will perform an opening set of music. The celebration will span 3 days, from Friday, July 22-Sunday, July 24, and will feature educational and recreational events throughout the duration.

About the Continental Divide Trail Coalition

CDTC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and management of CDT. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition mission is to create a community committed to constructing, promoting, and protecting, in perpetuity, the CDT, which stretches from Canada to Mexico, through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.  For more information please visit www.continentaldividetrail.org.

About the Town of Pinedale, Wyoming

From a backpacker’s perspective, Pinedale sits at the very shoulders of greatness-surrounded by over 400,000 acres of wilderness that is unrivaled in the United States. Pinedale is nestled in the midst of a mountain range classified as one of the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet. Within this mountain paradise lies over 140 miles of the Continental Divide Trail. Pinedale is a small mountain town with many big-city amenities, and a gracious population which welcomes visitors to this spectacular area.

About the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

Congress as a National Scenic Trail established the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in 1978.  When complete, the CDT will be the most significant trail system in the world. Stretching 3,100 miles along the backbone of America from Canada to Mexico, it accesses some of the most wild and scenic places left in the world while conserving the environment and promoting personal well being.

Contact: For more information or to schedule an interview, please call: Teresa Martinez, Continental Divide Trail Coalition
Tel: 303.996.2759
 here Email: tmartinez@continentaldividetrail.org Web: www.continentaldividetrail.org

Laura Hattan, Great Outdoor Shop Owner and Gateway Committee Chair

Telephone: 307-367-2440 Email: laura@greatoutdoorshop.com Website: greatoutdoorshop.com