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explore the Snowy Range, Sierra Madre Mountain Range & Upper North Platte River Valley
hiking, mountain biking & orv
The Snowy Range, Sierra Madre Mountain Range and Pole Mountain, each separate and diverse from one another, provide unlimited opportunities for extended backcountry adventures and day trips.
IN THIS SECTION
There are over 50 designated trails in the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountain Range ranging from 7,400 ft. to 11,200 ft. in elevation. There are also 14 hiking trails on Pole Mountain, most of which double as cross-country ski trails in the winter. The trails are often shared between hikers, mountain bikes, equestrians and ORVs and offer a variety of difficulty levels. See VIPs Southern Wyoming Recreation Map.
Several trails pass through designated Wilderness Areas: Savage Run, Platte River, Huston Park, Encampment River and lands surrounding the Rock Creek Trail. Wilderness Areas are roadless, with few signs and no services. Motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are not allowed in an effort to preserve the solitude of these relatively undisturbed areas of the forest.
Whether on foot, horseback, ATV, jeep, motorcycle or mountain bike, be prepared by having the right gear. Knowing when and how to use it is important. And remember to bring your camera! Scenic panoramas, abundant wildlife, and wildflowers complement your outdoor experience in Southern Wyoming.
Some of the most spectacular, yet strenuous, hiking trails in the Snowy Range lead to the 12,013 ft. summit of Medicine Bow Peak. These trails begin at the Sugarloaf Recreation Area along the Highway 130--the Snowy Range Scenic Byway and are accessible beginning late-June/early July through October, weather permitting. Get an early start when hiking these upper elevation trails as winds (and sometimes storms) tend to arrive by mid-afternoon. Lakes and streams seem to be everywhere, so you’ll want to bring along a fishing pole. When hiking the Snowy Range and other trails at high elevations, certain normal physiologic changes occur, such as hyperventilation and shortness of breath during exertion. As a precaution, allow your body a couple of days to acclimate before exploring the high country.
View of Hog Park Reservoir from the CDT Pipeline Trail
The Sierra Madre Mountain Range presents many challenging hikes, including the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). This 45.9 mile trail climbs above 10,000 feet with some of the best vistas of Carbon County, Wyoming. It is part of the 3,100-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that follows the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. The CDT enters the forest at the Colorado border, straddles the Huston Park Wilderness and continues northwest past Divide Peak. There are five access points on the forest, which are marked on the map below. The majority of the CDT is best explored via mountain bike, jeep or 4WD, however, a few segments are only accessible to hikers and equestrians.
Additional hiking trails tie into the CDT and provide for more variety in the length and difficulty level of each adventure. Many historical buildings and remnants of the mining era add extra excitement to your journey.
Pole Mountain, also known as Happy Jack, offers a vast network of hiking and mountain biking trails that wind through aspen, pine and fir tree stands. For the most part, the terrain is flat and gentle, with trails that loop and intersect each other frequently. Many of the trails double as cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in winter months. Daily use fees are required at Pole Mountain trail heads.
Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-da-voo) is a favorite spot for technical rock climbers May through September. It is best know for its wide, grueling and often punishing routes, but there are routes for all levels of climbers. The Turtle Rock trail, which is accessible from the Vedauwoo Campground, offers spectacular scenery. The dramatic and abundant rock formations here are large, pink, mid-Proterozoic Sherman granite, dotted with colorful lichen.
Fat tire riders will find miles of unsurpassed scenery and wildlife on the many diverse trails marked for mountain bikes. Explore trails and roads that cross 933,929 acres of Medicine Bow National Forest--plus additional paved and unpaved roads through surrounding BLM and State lands. These trails offer a wide range of difficulties from beginner to technical riders with superb challenges such as steep climbs and descents, jumps and water crossings.
The Little Laramie, Corner Mountain and Chimney Park trails of the Snowy Range and most of the trails on Pole Mountain provide challenging, yet shorter rides at lower elevations. Also used as cross-country ski trails in the winter, they tend to be free from boulders and logs and are great for less experienced riders.
The Medicine Bow Non-Motorized Recreation Trail
is Wyoming’s longest rail-trail stretching close to 25 miles from south of Albany, WY to the Colorado border. Old rail tracks from the Laramie, Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad have been converted into this scenic, hard-packed gravel hiking and biking trail. There are picnic tables and restrooms at the Pelton Creek, Woods Creek and Lake Owen trail heads and a hand pump for water at Lake Owen. See VIPs Southern Wyoming Recreation Map.
For more challenging mountain bike rides, try the Continental Divide Trail National Scenic Trail and the road leading to the Green Mountain Falls Trail in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. These rides include moderate to steep climbs, excellent scenery and several rocks to negotiate. Ride bikes to the entrance to the Huston Park Wilderness area. From there, the Green Mountain Falls are a short hike...and well worth it.
Motorcycles, ATVs and Rangers are popular alternatives for exploring this beautiful country. There is a large network of paved and unpaved established roads throughout the Forest and surrounding State and BLM lands. On established Wyoming roadways, all motorcycles and ATVs are required to be street legal and display a motorcycle license plate.
The Medicine Bow National Forest has designated trails that are signed as part of the State ORV Program. When operating a motorcycle or ATV on these trails, an ORV permit is required. ORV maps, permits and Motor Vehicle Use Maps can be obtained locally. As this program is frequently updated and subject to change, please contact the Forest Service for updates.
Whether you are looking for a single-day adventure or an extended stay vacation, southern Wyoming is ideal for group/family outings, weddings, reunions and romantic getaways. Click here to download.
VIP's Guide to Southern Wyoming™ is published annually
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