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2012: Wind River Range
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Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
2012: Wind River Range on 11/08/2011 14:42:25 MST Print View

My hiking partner and I try to do one long (1-3 week) trip per summer together. I am in Seattle and he is in Phoenix. We thru hiked the JMT in 2011 and had the best trip ever!

We are still trying to come up with our summer 2012 trip. We are strongly leaning towards the Winds (with the Wonderland and Tahoe Rim trails in consideration). Problem, both of us are totally unfamiliar with the area and could use some advise.

We would like some suggestions on a loop trip, somewhere between 75-125 miles. 7-10 days. We are both very strong hikers, base weights in the lower teens able to do 15-20 mile days but prefer 12-15. He loves to fish so that is always a plus. But we are looking for big country and tons of scenery.

Any thoughts would help big time!


Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: 2012: Wind River Range on 11/08/2011 16:11:53 MST Print View

I did the Wonderland in 8 days (7 hiking days) We didn't do any side hikes or anything and I think that was a mistake.

So the Wonderland is short... take your time and do some side trails if you decide on it

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
2012: Wind River Range on 11/08/2011 18:11:11 MST Print View

The Highline Trail is, as I recall (too lazy to look it up) 70-some miles long between Big Sandy Openings and Green River Lakes. If you take some side trips (mandatory, IMHO) such as to Cirque of the Towers, Golden Lakes, Titcomb Basin, it will be longer, at least 100. There is a shuttle service through the Great Outdoors Shop in Pinedale. There are a zillion lakes and it's a fisherman's paradise!

IMHO, the best current book on the Winds is Nancy Pallister's "Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains." Many of the best parts of the Winds are off-trail. While some require climbing gear and considerable skills, many are relatively easy if you have experience in off-trail route finding. Nancy's book combines on and off-trail trips and, of course, you can combine several if that is your desire.

IMHO, the Winds have the most spectacular mountain scenery anywhere (and I've been a lot of places!).

Edited later: If you're looking for "big country and tons of scenery," the Winds are THE place!

Coming from low altitude (especially Seattle), you should start at Green River Lakes (north end) which gives you a chance to acclimatize--you'll start at 8,000 feet and don't gain much elevation the first day, vs. starting at 9,300 and going up to 10,500 the first day from Big Sandy.

You'll want the large scale maps from either Earthwalk Press (which I detest) or Beartooth Mountain Press (with which I'm not familiar) for planning, and 7.5 minute topo maps for any sections where you plan to go off-trail. If you get the optional CD with Nancy Pallister's book (well worth it; the photos will have you drooling), you can print the relevant maps from it.

There are a number of trip reports on this site including the one mentioned in the next post here.

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/08/2011 20:35:29 MST.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Wind river route on 11/08/2011 19:56:05 MST Print View

Hi Kris Ive done six trips in the northern and central area of the winds so I know enough about the area to get lost. Do you have a map of the area yet if so Id be glad to talk you through a route. Also look up under trip reports Andrew Wolffs 9 days solo in the winds the routes he took would be tough to beat for big country veiws and the off trail routes should be easy to follow.He did a very detailed report with some great pics. Good luck

Andrew Wolff

Locale: Chattanooga
Wind Rivers on 11/12/2011 12:34:07 MST Print View

Thanks for the mention Mark. Kris, like you I try and get in one big trip a year. I thru'd the JMT this September and while it was spectacular it certainly was not better than the Winds which I did the year before - Trip Report here:

I don't think you'll be dissappointed with any trip you plan there. I recommend that you first order the Beartooth Mountain Press map. It is 1:100 000 scale and provides an excellent and easy to read (unlike Earthwalk Press) overview of the area. It would be adequate for an on-trail trip but if you decide to go off-trail I would order custom USGS Quads for the areas you will need. I highly recommend that you go off trail some!! Nancy Palisters book is excellent for this and you can find plenty of easier or harder off-trail segments in there to work into your trip. The Wall Lake route for instance is very easy and not to be missed I think.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: 2012: Wind River Range on 11/13/2011 19:38:42 MST Print View

Hey Kris, my name's Jen. I met you this summer on the jmt. Just wanted to say hi and I'm glad to see you're still hiking after your feet turned into "hamburger meat".

Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Re: Wind Rivers on 11/14/2011 17:53:45 MST Print View

Thanks Andrew! I def plan to do some cross country travel on this trip. I appreciate your help as well as a great TR.

Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: 2012: Wind River Range on 11/14/2011 17:55:44 MST Print View

Hey Jen! Good to hear from you. How was the rest of your trip last summer? My feet ended up fine with time and we completed in 16 days. Time of our lives!

Thanks again for letting me use your phone!

Rutherford Platt
(tunaboy999) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: 2012: Wind River Range on 11/16/2011 12:22:12 MST Print View

I mostly concur with the recommendation of the Winds.

However, the mosquitoes are so bad in July through late August that they can really wreck an entire trip.

I went to the San Juans in Colorado this past August instead and saw nary a mosquito.

In early sept, I would definitely choose the Winds.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: 2012: Wind River Range on 11/16/2011 13:35:44 MST Print View

I haven't found the mosquitoes to be bad in the Winds after the first week in August the years I have been there. However, 2011, because of the late snow melt, was unusual all over most of the west. Normally the mosquitoes are worst during the 2 weeks after snow melt. Unfortunately, the snow melt (and therefore mosquito) season lasted into September this year! The San Juans didn't get as much snow last winter as regions farther north--their snowpack was about normal instead of way above.

Camping well away from streams, lakes and boggy areas helps, too. Up on a knoll the breeze usually blows the bugs away. Places like the upper Green River valley, though, there's no getting away from the bugs.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Doing Lake Tahoe on 11/22/2011 21:18:09 MST Print View

I've been bping in the Tahoe area since the early mid-70's. I would take the Winds over the TRT, just from where the TRT goes. I visited the Winds a year ago in August and want to go back, such a long drive from CA in a day though.