The word of the week: MELTOFF. At last, it’s begun in the high alpine of the Winds.
Those consistent additions of snow I mentioned last week have slowed down. The only snow in the forecast is about two inches expected at elevations above 11,000 feet. Less falling snow plus summer temperatures means the backcountry will start to open up at a rapid pace. But beware as it also means raging creek crossings, muddy trails, and active wildlife.
When I say raging creek crossings, I’m talking about the kind that could require you to turn back or choose another route. Those trickling streams you stepped over with ease last autumn have the potential now to be waist-deep, high-consequence rapids. At this point in the year, water levels can change drastically over the course of a day, so one crossing can present two different situations in the morning and the late afternoon. As a general rule, if the water is over your knees consider an alternate plan. Remember, the marked trail is not always the safest option for a crossing, so take stock of the conditions and proceed on your own good judgment.
As traffic in our wild areas sees its seasonal uptick, please keep in mind the Recreate Responsibly Coalition‘s guidelines for doing your part outdoors:
1. Know Before You Go – Check the status of the place you want to visit for closures, fire restrictions, and weather.
2. Plan and Prepare – Reservations and permits may be required. Make sure you have the gear you need and a back-up plan.
3. Build an Inclusive Outdoors – Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
4. Respect Others – There is space for everyone and countless outdoor activities. Be kind to all who use the outdoors and nature differently.
5. Leave No Trace – Respect the land, water, wildlife and Native communities. Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.
6. Make it Better – We all have a responsibility to sustain the places we love. Volunteer, donate, and advocate for the outdoors.
Our right to the outdoors is one of the most precious things we have, but with that comes the duty of protecting our lands for ourselves and for the millions of species which call them home. That said, go have some fun before the bugs come out!
Here’s the latest on the trailheads:
Big Sandy Trailhead (9,085’) – Snow Depth: 0″
The snow drifts that were covering some of the road should be completely melted by now with our week of 70+ degree weather. However, the trail is still holding snow, especially in the more heavily wooded sections before Big Sandy Lake, with depth increasing as you ascend towards the lake. I expect that the snow in the area is more patchy than consistent, but that can still mean deep post-holing in sections. As more and more people express interest in getting to the Cirque of the Towers, I’ve been giving accessibility estimates in the 1-2 weeks range. All that snow up high held later than we expected this year, but it will start to go quick.
Scab Creek Trailhead (8,200’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Scab Creek Trailhead is open. With the recent substantial rise in the snowline, I estimate the trail is hikeable for ~6 miles from the trailhead. Be prepared for wet trails and patchy snow as you approach Divide Lake.
Boulder Lake Trailhead (7,300’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Boulder Lake Trailhead is open and the trails are dry. Ethel Lake and Blueberry Lake are now fully accessible.
Elkhart Park Trailhead (9,350’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Elkhart Park Trailhead is open. The road, parking lot and campground are all dry. A couple of us were able to hike to Sacred Rim early last week on patchy, slushy snow. By now, most of that snow should be gone, uncovering a wet but hikeable trail. Pole Creek Trail is still holding snow as you approach Photographer’s Point. The snow is patchy and cruddy too, so even snowshoeing or skiing in is a pain. Photographer’s will most likely be hikeable in about a week and Titcomb Basin in two or three.
Spring Creek Trailhead (8,200’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Spring Creek Trailhead is open. The road to get here is short but rough; 4WD and high clearance are recommended. If the MTB trails in the area are any indication, the hiking trails are dry. Plus, this area becomes incredibly beautiful with the spring wildflowers in bloom. Glimpse Lake Trail is only accessible to Glimpse Lake and no further due to fallen trees. Trapper Lake Trail was cleared of trees to Summit Lake by the US Forest Service last summer.
New Fork Lakes Trailhead (7,900’) – Snow Depth: 0″
New Fork Lakes Trailhead is open. There is no snow in the area and you can most likely push all the way to the junction of Porcupine and Clark Creek Trails, 8 miles up the canyon. Doubletop Trail is likely still holding snow as you approach Rainbow Lake.
Green River Lakes Trailhead (8,040’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Green River Lakes Trailhead is open. The trail is clear of snow at least to Three Forks Park, 10.7 miles from the trailhead, as reported by a group of hikers this weekend. This means Slide Lake is bordering on accessible, but expect muddy trails and high creek crossings. Green River Lakes is now a great option for those looking to get into the Winds for more than a day hike.
A special thank you to all of you who have contributed information, photos and resources over the phone, through our social media, and in our store. This trail report is just my summary of an entire community’s worth of effort and experience. Without you, this would be next to impossible. Let’s continue to make it happen!
If you have any questions or need advice on visiting the Pinedale area, give us a shout at 307-367-2440. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff are always happy to offer guidance. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our store is open every day from 8AM to 7PM. We look forward to hearing from you!
Recreate Responsibly, Friends of the Bridger-Teton
Mud Season Hiking Dos and Don’ts, Appalachian Mountain Club
Bear Wise Wyoming, WY Fish & Game
Wyoming Fishing Regulations, WY Fish & Game