WY – East Fork Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Bridger Wilderness

After spending three weeks on the east side of the Winds, it was time for an introduction to the west side. With the high snow year, it made sense to start in the south and work my way north. Using Nancy Pallister’s book, “Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains,” I mapped a tentative route with plenty of alternatives. I began my trek from the Big Sandy Trailhead south of Pinedale. 

I waited until morning to decide if I was going to hike clockwise or counterclockwise. The skies were quite overcast and hazy from wildfire smoke. Since I knew I wanted the best possible conditions for Cirque of the Towers, it was an easy decision to start clockwise, making Dads Lake the first destination. The hike began on the Meeks Lake Trail/Fremont Trail #096/CDT (Continental Divide Trail).

The trail became a bit confusing just before this next sign. Several social trails ran through a meadow, most likely heading to Meeks Lake

Less than 10 minutes later, these signs appeared. Notice how it’s now 4.5 miles to Dads Lake.

And then I FOUND the wilderness. 

Although views were hazy, wildflowers popped. I was especially happy to find tall Elephant Head orchids as those I’d seen on the east side were only about 6″ tall. These were easily 1-1.5 foot tall.

There’s nothing quite like flowers on a dreary day to keep me happy and smiling. 

Easy terrain trail was a welcome change from most of the miles I experienced on the east side. 

Mirror Lake lived up to it’s namesake with so much reflectivity. 

Dads Lake

Marms Lake

More trail happiness. 

My plan was to depart the trail at East Fork River (staying on the Fremont Trail toward Cross Lake until that junction).

Leaving Fremont Trail, I was pleasantly surprised to find fairly well defined tread along the East Fork River

Even thistle like the river. 

This is a ground cover. In the early season yellow but as they mature they get multicolored and then mostly pinks. 

These Queen’s Crown were such Dr. Seussish looking plants. 

Thunderstorms slowed me down, so I didn’t make the lakes the first night and decided this pond would do. 

Not a bad view from my tent where I could watch the storm progress and recede. I was thankful for my umbrella and poncho.

Sunrise the next morning. 

Nothing like drinking a cup of coffee which watching the ridge pink up. 

By the time I was ready to continue north, the skies looked promising. 

The thunderstorms may have cleared, but the wildfire smoke was still hanging around. I was so glad I’d saved Cirque of the Towers for dessert.

Why YES this is the Winds I wanted to find. 

And I found the East Fork Lakes

There were also nearby waterfalls to explore. 

I found this pack stashed presumably by someone out for a day hike. Note to self: might be a good idea to leave a note. I took a photo and marked the waypoint in case I hear of someone MIA. 

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/7-8/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 12 (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, constant up and down (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: none
    • Overgrowth: none
    • Signage: moderate on main trails
    • Terrain: very good, a few spots of muck
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: excellent
  • Solitude: Shared the trail with others between the trailhead and Dads Lake, but then saw no one until I met two CDT thru hikers near the East Fork junction. I also met three guys at Upper East Fork Lake who were out for a 12-day jaunt.
  • Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t need deet
  • Wildlife Sightings: none beyond birds, squirrels, chipmunks, pika, and marmuts
  • Precip: expect thunderstorms in July/August
  • Temp: Overnight varied and seemed to fluctuate a lot in the 30’s and 40’s, highs were probably in 60’s-70’s.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4++ cherries (out of 5)


  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, bugs and navigation. Also review current food protection requirements/guidelines (I used an Ursack with an Opsack liner). 



4 thoughts on “WY – East Fork Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Bridger Wilderness

  1. Pingback: WY – Hailey Pass / Baptiste Lake, Southern Wind River Mountains, Bridger and Popo Agie Wildernesses – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  2. Pingback: WY – South Fork Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  3. Pingback: WY – Lizard Head / Bear Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  4. Pingback: WY – Cirque of the Towers, Southern Wind River Mountains, Bridger and Popo Agie Wildernesses – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

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