Tom’s Experience on the Wind Rivers Traverse:
We set out to do the Wind River High Route following this very detailed guide but due to time constraints and weather we had to change our route a little bit.
We started day one at the Big Sandy Trailhead and headed into the wilderness area. We walked pass Big Sandy Lake and into the Circ of the Towers and Lonesome Lake by way of Jackass Pass.
The pass was a little rocky and would be very difficult to cross with a horse but hiking it wasn’t too bad.
The Circ was a very pretty area with steep granite rock faces surrounding the trail.
We stopped here for lunch and as we were eating we watched two different fishermen catch multiple fish. There were also a few rock climbers which were fun to watch.
From here, we headed up Texas Pass which was very steep and there wasn’t much of a trail to follow. We dropped down Texas Pass into a valley that is behind the Circ of the Towers.
The trail was pretty flat and easy to follow all the way up until Pyramid Lake at which point the trail disappeared and we had to bushwhack.
We decided to hike just a little bit past Pyramid Lake to an unnamed lake and spend the night there. We had great weather on the first day.
From here, we tried to stay as high as possible as we walked through a valley beneath Ambush Peak and Raid Peak.
There were pretty lakes below us and more steep granite cliff faces. I don’t think I have ever seen so many steep granite cliffs in one area any where else. There was a very rocky pass just below Mount Bonneville that led to Bonneville Lake.
We were rock hopping most of the way and there was no trail which really slowed us down. We descended to Bonneville Lake and went up another pass which was really fun. There was no trail but the rock ledges kind of lead you up the pass.
We came to one part where the ledge slowly got narrower until you had to use your hands and climb to the other side. The pass then descends down to Lee Lake and Middle Fork Lake. This was also a very pretty section and one of my favorites from the whole trip.
The rock hopping was really difficult to try to keep any sort of pace and it really slowed us down. We stopped for lunch at Middle Fork Lake. By this time, clouds were starting to roll in and it looked like a storm was coming. We decided to stop following the Wind River High Route Guide at this point since we were running behind schedule and the weather didn’t look like it would be safe to stay up high. So we descended down and started following the Old Highline Trail towards North Fork Lake. After about an hour of leaving Middle Fork Lake the mountains were completely covered in clouds and I’m sure we would have been in a white out and had a difficult time progressing, especially without a trail to follow. We made it to North Fork Lake with just mild rain that day and set up camp there.
We did however have two river-crossings where we had to roll up our pants and take off our shoes in order to try to keep everything dry. On the third day We left North Fork Lake and headed towards Hat Pass.
Hat Pass wasn’t too bad as far as passes are concerned and we got up and over that pretty quick. About this time a huge snow storm arrived and we were forced to put on our rain coats.
It rained and snowed most of this day but since we were on trails we were still able to progress along. We crossed two passes and walked through Bald Mountain Basin during the storm. Bald Mountain Basin was another one of my favorite spots along the trail and a place I hope to make it back to some day. We ended up coming to another river crossing and since we were already soaked from the rain we decided to just walk through this time. We came to Lester Pass which was a really difficult pass to climb up. It was very long and very steep. This dropped us down into Little Senaca Lake which was a very pretty area as well. We saw numerous people around these lakes that were camped there trying to avoid the rain.
We continued on and reached the Fremont Crossing which has a bridge over it which was nice. We decided to set up camp at Lower Jean Lake and it was a very pretty area as well.
It was cold that night but it didn’t rain after we stopped hiking which was nice. On the morning of the fourth day we had to make it to Green River Lakes Trailhead so we really tried to push it.
We hiked over Shannon Pass and Cube Rock Pass both of which were very rocky.
Our final pass of the trip was Vista Pass which wasn’t very steep and was pretty easy to descend.
From there the trail was mostly flat with a few downhill sections as it follows the Green River out of the wilderness area.
Squaretop Mountain was a very pretty granite peak that was fun to hike under. We also saw a ton of people the closer we got to the trailhead.
Overall we hiked over 80 miles but it was through some of the prettiest mountains in the US. Dogs are allowed in the Wind River mountains.
Trail Info: Getting to the Big Sandy Trailhead (the southern trailhead) can be a little difficult since you must travel about 46 miles on unmarked dirt roads. Most cars should be able to make it to the trailhead if the dirt is dry but a high clearance vehicle is nice. The easiest way to get to the trailhead from Farson Wyoming is to head 4 miles east of Farson to an intersection that is signed for Big Sandy Trailhead, turn left here and restart your odometer. All mileage will be from this turn. At 21.5 miles bear right. At 23 miles turn left. At 29.5 miles bear left. At 34.5 bear right and the parking lot will be at about mile 45.
To get to the Green River Lakes Trailhead (the northern trailhead) from Pinedale, drive 7 miles west on US Highway 191, turn right (north) on Wyoming Highway 352 and drive north to the National Forest boundary where the pavement ends (about 30 miles). Continue north on Forest Road 600, staying on the right side of the river. After 17 miles the road ends at the campground and trailhead.
Big Sandy Trailhead: 42.68811,-109.270733
Big Sandy Lake: 42.736958,-109.208865
Lonesome Lake: 42.777716,-109.214723
Pyramid Lake: 42.840951,-109.305511
Bonneville Lake: 42.873322,-109.346838
Middle Fork Lake: 42.917086,-109.37336
North Fork Lake: 42.928148,-109.504166
Spider Lake: 43.017043,-109.575169
Little Senaca Lake: 43.066192,-109.652138
Lower Jean Lake: 43.108941,-109.669476
Peak Lake: 43.153352,-109.703121
Beaver Park: 43.221065,-109.757881
Green River Lakes Trailhead: 43.314687,-109.857574
Please comment below to share your experience hiking in the Wind Rivers. Don’t forget to register to receive the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your email in the bar above.