Top hiking trails in Southeastern Wyoming from local expert Rebecca Walsh of Just Trails. Southeastern Wyoming.
Most people rush right through our neck of the woods eager to get elsewhere. But, the next time you find yourself on a lonely Interstate or Highway passing through our wide-open windswept prairies or narrow mountain passes I invite you to stop, explore and take a look to see what this part of the state has to offer. When you visit don’t forget to bring your hiking boots. Here are three hiking destinations to discover in Southeastern Wyoming.
#1 Medicine Bow Peak- Hikes Up High
Medicine Bow Peak is the highest peak in the area at 12,013 feet. It’s part of a rugged ridge line that towers over several alpine lakes and plush forests below. To reach the peak requires physical stamina, as terrain provides steep climbs and scrambles over rocky talus slopes. The view from the bottom of the peak is stunning, but the view from the top of the peak will take your breath away, not just from the altitude, but from knowing that you worked hard for the view.
But, there’s a bit of little-known history that makes the hike to the top even more interesting. During a storm in 1955, United Airlines Flight 409 crashed into a high ridge near the peak, at about 11,570 feet. The flight was headed from Denver to Salt Lake City and all 66 passengers were killed. If you look closely from the trail some wreckage from the flight can still be seen on high ledges and scattered along boulder fields at the base of the mountain. This plane crash is a constant reminder of the rugged terrain and extreme weather that must be planned for when hiking in the area.
Medicine Bow peak can be reached from the Lewis Lake Trailhead or Lake Marie trailhead in the Medicine Bow National Forest’s Snowy Range.
#2 Vedauwoo Hiking Trails
You can hike here year-round. Vedauwoo is a mysterious place where gigantic Sherman granite rock formations rise out of the prairie forming shelter from the wind while providing abundant recreation activities. With an extensive trail network, abundant campsites, wildlife, and rocks galore, Vedauwoo is the perfect place to climb, hike, camp, fish, picnic or just perch up on a boulder to watch the light dance across the rocks as the sun moves across the sky.
While Vedauwoo is most popular during the summer months, it’s a great place to explore in the winter by cross-country skis or snowshoes when deep, white powder snow contrasts against the gray of the granite rocks.
Vedauwoo was once a sacred place to Native American tribes in the area and when you’re visiting, it’s easy to see why. It’s a place where locals rediscover its magic with every visit and a place where tourists discover it for the first time. Vedauwoo is located off of I-80 just 22 miles east of Laramie, Wyoming.
#3 Curt Gowdy State Park Trails
Curt Gowdy State Park is the place to head if you’re looking to explore the area by mountain bike, horseback or foot. Or if fishing is your thing, you can hop in a boat or sit on the banks of Granite, Crystal or North Crow reservoirs and try your luck at catching trout. The more adventurous can head out on a stand-up paddle board and the park even boasts an archery course.
The park was constructed in 2006 with over 30 miles of trails specifically designed to take advantage of the terrain and provide trail users loops of trails ranging in distance and difficulty. The trail system has even earned a official Epic designation from the International Mountain Biking Association. While the park doesn’t look like much when you turn off the highway, dusty trails give way to unique granite boulder formations, wildflowers, scraggly ponderosa pines and eventually lush forests along Crow Creek.
Crow Creek eventually leads to a waterfall, Hidden Falls, making this the perfect destination for a foot soak and a selfie. Trails at Curt Gowdy State Park are well marked and there is camping available for both tents and RV’s. The park is located halfway between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming off of highway 210. No matter where you stop to explore when you visit the area you’ll need to pack one essential item, a camera to capture the rugged beauty of the area.
About the author: Rebecca Walsh is the owner of Just Trails, Hike Like a Woman, and Mom’s Who Hike. She is an expert on outdoor adventures in Southeastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. Meet Rebecca in our upcoming Travels with Darley Wyoming’s National Forests episode coming to PBS!