Western Traveler

Highline Trail, Wyoming

For a number of years I’d hoped to extend my exploration into new and rugged parts of the American West. My big chance came when my hiking and camping friend Jeff decided to honor my wish and try something new and head up into Wyoming.

Prior to hooking up with him in Salt Lake City I managed to find some reading material on the area, helping to come up with a good location to begin my Wyoming experience. I turned to my old, trustworthy friend, The Falcon Guide, “Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range”. The moment I opened the book I saw a photograph of a landmark called Squaretop Mountain. I knew immediately that this was the target goal.

We arrived in the Bridger National Forest in the midst of a snowstorm, found an acceptable campsite and settled in for a very cold night.

Our tour began the next morning from the Green River Lake campground. We had two options; take the Highline Trail to the East, or the Lakeside Trail to the West. The Eastern Shore won out, mostly because it was more exposed (to the sunlight) and appeared to offer a more scenic hike above the shoreline. The Western Shore would take us into a dense evergreen forest, which we felt would limit our field of vision. There was also the issue of grizzly bears, which neither of us wished to interact with on a personal level. With the limited visibility of the dense forest, we voted for the more open area.

We weren’t disappointed as we skirted the edge of the lake. By appearance only, we estimated that the lake was a mile or so in length, we were wrong. It turns out that the Lower Green River Lake is about 2.75 miles long, giving us a longer and more rewarding hike.

While hiking, we were warmed by the sun, caressed by a steady wind and enjoyed beautiful scenery at the crest of every rise. We examined erratics (large boulders which appeared out of place), studied an avalanche chute across the emerald green water, took wonder at the subtle autumn hues and basked in the adventure of a trek into one of American’s most beautiful spaces. We were constantly inspired by the presence of Squaretop Mountain in the distance.

Due to the lateness of the season, our daylight hours were limited and we were eventually forced to turn around and return to camp. We considered making a loop hike out of this excursion by taking the Lakeshore Trail back, but the uncertainty of the trail conditions within the dark forest convinced us to backtrack. Even so, it will undoubtedly be one of my fondest hiking memories.

There are longer versions of this hike available if you want to try them (up to 16.3 miles each way to Summit Lake). You’ll need USGS quad maps for; Green River Lakes, Squaretop Mountain, Gannett Peak and Earthwalk: Northern Wind River Range.

Last modified on: June 15th 2013.
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