Hit the Trail with Landmark - Three of the Best Day Hikes in the Wind River Range

Three of the Best Day Hikes in the Wind River Range

Wyoming’s Wind River Range, a 100-mile stretch of rugged peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife, is a backpacker's paradise. Renowned as one of America's top hiking destinations, this vast expanse of the Rocky Mountains, encompassing the Shoshone National Forest and Popo Agie Wilderness, has drawn hikers from all corners of the country for generations.

With a range of hikes from moderate to challenging, choosing the perfect trail for a day hike in the “Winds” can be daunting. That's why we’re sharing three of our favorites– from beginner trails to challenging inclines. So grab your favorite tee and water bottle, and hit the trail with us in Wyoming!

Beginner Hike at Silas Canyon

Silas Canyon is our favorite hike for all ages and skill levels. This 2.5-mile roundtrip hike winds through the forest and past mountain lakes, where we recommend having a picnic or taking a break to snap some photos.

Because most hikes in the Wind River Range are multi-day excursions and nearly every trail branches into a longer trail, you’ll want to be careful to stay on the shorter route. The Forest Service marks each trail, so watch for signage, especially at the forks.

To take this hike, begin at the canyon base at Fiddlers Lake. After you’ve hiked just shy of two miles, you’ll reach a fork in the trail. The trail to the left will take you to Christina Lake, and the trail to the right will take you to Silas Lakes. Take the right trail toward Silas Lakes.

As you hike this trail, you can take the fork to Lower Silas Lake or Upper Silas Lake. If you want to keep your hike shorter, take the route to Lower Silas Lake. But if you have time to spare and are up for a couple more miles, the hike to upper Silas Lake is worth the effort. This clear lake beneath Cony Mountain is stunning.

A two-mile hike may sound short, but it will still take at least two hours due to a 1500-foot elevation gain and large granite boulders along the trail. We recommend starting your ascent in the morning and beginning your descent around noon. Weather in the “Winds” can change quickly, even during the summer months, so we don’t recommend any hikes late in the day unless you’re prepared for inclement weather.

We also recommend bringing bear spray on this hike and all others. You’ll likely see some wildlife in this area–from elk to marmots—so it’s best to be prepared.

Moderate Hike at Green River Lakes Loop

This 7.7 mile loop is the ideal day hike. It’s just challenging enough to be adventurous, but short enough to be completed in a day. The Green River Lakes Loop takes about four hours to complete and is very popular during the summer months. It’s also dog friendly! So if you have a leashed trail buddy, bring them along.

Start your hike at the Highline trailhead where it intersects with Clear Creek. We recommend hiking clockwise around the lake for the best views of Squaretop mountain.

One of the most treacherous parts of this trail begins before the trailhead as you drive off-road to get there. This dirt road has  many washboards so be sure to take it slow and avoid this hike during the winter months.

Challenging Hike at Cirque of the Towers

The Cirque of Towers along the Continental Divide is the most famous destination in the Wind River Range. This semicircle of fifteen jagged peaks interspersed with alpine lakes and lush meadows is worth a challenging hike!

The 30-mile loop is often done over a three to five-day backpacking trip. But you can do a day hike to the Cirque if you’re up for an early start and some switchbacks! This day hike is 18 miles, but the ascent is gradual, and the magnificent views along the way will keep you motivated.

We recommend starting at Big Sandy Lake trailhead and hiking through Sedgewick Meadow. At about the five-mile mark, you’ll want to take the Jackass Pass Trail. This is where the terrain gets a bit more rocky, but it is still very doable. You won’t reach any switchbacks until you’re in the last few miles of your hike.

When you reach Jackass Pass, plan to stop and take photos of the sweeping views. This view alone makes the entire hike worth it!

The Cirque is an extremely popular area for backpacking and camping, so if you’re unsure which way to go at a junction, ask a fellow hiker. We also like this turn-for-turn description of the day hike with helpful tips and a downloadable map.

Since this area is remote and often snowy until midsummer, we recommend going in July or August. The temps are moderate, the mosquitos have died down, and you won’t risk traversing icy patches. Before you go, it’s helpful to have an update on the current conditions in the Cirque. We recommend calling the Pinedale Ranger District within 24 hours of your hike (307-367-4326).

And if at any point you feel like you’ve gone far enough or it’s getting too late in the day to delay your descent, don’t hesitate to start your hike back. This hike is so beautiful that any distance on this out-and-back trail is worth it!

Bonus Hike at Roaring Fork Mountain

If you have a day to spare and are up for a second challenging hike, we also love Roaring Fork. Hiking in alpine and subalpine terrain is magical. This difficult hike is ten miles with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. From this elevation, you’ll get an unparalleled view of the Wind Rivers.

To reach Roaring Fork Mountain, begin your hike at the Stough Creek Lakes trailhead. From there, you’ll make your ascent along the roaring creek stream. Before summiting the tree line, you’ll pass a lush meadow home to an elk herd. Keep your distance and snap a few photos from the trail!

As you get closer to the mountain's base, the terrain will become increasingly technical and include several switchbacks. You may feel like you're scrambling on the rocks at times, so take your time and climb carefully.

Roaring Fork Mountain sits at an elevation of 12,224 feet. As you might expect, it’s windy and rugged atop the peak. But the views are nothing short of unforgettable!

Our top tips are to start your ascent early in the morning, around daybreak, and begin your descent by noon. If the weather turns, turn back and don’t climb to the mountaintop. You’ll still get incredible views and won’t risk getting stuck on a remote trail.

Wyoming’s Wind River Range is wild country that still feels untouched. If you’re looking for adventure, it’s time to head to the “Winds.” And if you discover a new trail along the way, snap a photo and let us know. There’s always something new to discover in Wyoming’s wilderness, and we can’t wait to see out there!

Wind River Range Unisex Short Sleeve Tee
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