Warm days and sunshine continue to melt the snow at lower elevations, and the mountains continue to shed their winter coat. Temperatures in the 70s have been melting snow at a rate of approximately 2-3 inches per day. Below 9500 feet, the nights are only just hitting the freezing mark. This means snow is RAPIDLY melting. The overall snowline seems to be sitting at 9300 feet. Interestingly, the bugs haven’t been out recently, even with the warm weather and large amounts of snowmelt. Expect that to change very soon! A few changes from last week:
Union Pass Road: The Union Pass Road is accessible from Hwy 352, but motorists and cyclists will find snow in the trees and on shaded aspects above 8700-8900 feet. As of three days ago, Gunsight Pass gauging station read 25 inches of snow.
Green River Lakes: Trailhead is open and accessible, and hiking can be done far up the Green River Valley and in surrounding canyons. Because of the large amount of rain we’ve received since last week, the road is muddy but passable. Watch for flooding where the river comes close to the road.
New Fork Lake: The road is open, and the trailhead/campground is accessible by car, truck and camper. The initial part of the trail is dry, but as you drop into the New Fork drainage, the trail quickly becomes muddy and washed-out. The inlet of New Fork Lake is an important flood plain; please stick to trails if hiking in this area.
Spring Creek Park: Not entirely accessible as of two days ago. Lots of snow and mud after the horse trailer parking lot. Please give this trailhead time to melt and dry out before attempting to drive all the way to Spring Creek Park.
Elkhart Park: The trailhead is completely accessible by car. However, hiking out of the trailhead is only possible for a few yards before 2-3 feet of snow is encountered. This author was on skins the entire way from the trailhead. 3-4 feet of snow still exist at Miller Park, Eklund and Hobbs Lakes are still frozen. Unfortunately, the snow hasn’t setup completely so post-holing is likely. Skis or snowshoes are recommended.
Boulder Lake: The trail to Blueberry Lake, Lovatt Lake, and further is free and clear of snow. The large drifts blocking the Boulder Lake Trail have subsided greatly, but still pose an obstacle in getting farther up the trail towards Lake Ethel.
Scab Creek: The trailhead is open and accessible.
Big Sandy Opening: The road is reported to be open and clear up to the trailhead, at least to Big Sandy Lodge. Intermittent snow will be encountered when hiking towards Big Sandy Lake and towards Fish Creek Park.
As the days become longer, we will see more and more snow start to melt off above 10,000 feet, which is what dictates the runoff season. We’re still stuck in between an odd time of year, where trails are accessible but not far from the trailhead. Skis and snowshoes continue to be the way to access the high country, however the next few weeks will see more and more snow coming off faster. With that, comes the bugs! If hiking out of Green River Lakes, bring bug spray. This is equally true of bear spray; lots of big animals roaming around looking for food this time of year.
If you have any questions about the most recent trail updates, need help planning a trip, or would like to let us know of any trail conditions, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440, and be sure to tag us in all your Wind River adventures on Instagram @greatoutdoorshop.
Overall, conditions for this time of year are ahead of schedule for getting into the mountains. With warm weather and rain comes mountain access. The staff at the Great Outdoor Shop will continue to monitor conditions in the mountains and update you with what we find. If you have any questions about specific trails, need some trip planning help, or have gear questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (307) 367-2440. We carry a shop full of quality gear to make your mountain experience as comfortable and worry-free as possible, and it would be our pleasure to help you make your next Wind Rivers jaunt one you will never forget!