October 23, 2014
Pine Creek Canyon Trail (#165)
+/- 4 miles
Beartooth Publishing: North Wind River Range
Earthwalk Press: North Wind River Range
USGS 7.5 minute Topographical Maps: Fremont Lake North, Bridger Lakes
Josh and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous fall day and head to Long Lake for some fishing.
Here’s the deal: Long Lake is beautiful. Long Lake is quiet. Long Lake is easy to get to. Why?
Because Long Lake is hard to get back from.
While it is easy to hike DOWN two-thousand feet in about 2 miles, it is unanimously decided to be nowhere near as fun to hike back up.
But, that does give you some solitude. Yes it does.
In fact, we didn’t see another single person. We didn’t even see another car in the parking lot….and that’s pretty rad.
You access the trail to Long Lake out of Elkhart Park Trailhead. However, remember that there are two trailheads at Elkhart Park. For Long Lake you need the Pine Creek Canyon trail, which lies beyond the Trails End Campground. You pretty much just go downhill the entire time, and it starts right off the bat.
You get some nice views of the upper end of Fremont Lake while you are hiking, but Long Lake hides from view until you are right upon it.
The trail itself is in fantastic condition, despite its lack of regular use. Winding through thickly forested sections of trail, it would have been a stunning hike two weeks ago before the aspens lost all of their leaves.
Long Lake appears suddenly out of dense pine cover, and it is a gorgeous lake surrounded by forested hills on one side and sheer canyon walls on the other. Ice climbing does develop here in the winter, but the approach is so silly that no one bothers much with it.
We sat and enjoyed the scenery for a few minutes before moving along to the outlet. During runoff, the outlet is roaring with water from the melting snow in the mountains. Generally, this time of year the water is slower and quieter. However, I was shocked at how much water was still gushing down the falls.
Josh dug out his Tenkara Rod and some flies and headed downriver to find some pocket water to fish. I dug out my book and settled down on a cozy rock to read.
After a bit, I dug out my camera and wandered around. The Wind River Range is a photographer’s dream. I don’t even know what I’m doing out there and my photos look pretty good; imagine what a trained professional could do. Haha!
All in all, it was another great day exploring our beautiful area. Long Lake may be a bear to hike out of, but the solitude and beauty are sometimes worth it. So, check it out for yourselves and get your sweat on (seriously a grunt coming back up).