Central Wind River Range High Route, 2022

Watch the full video for the trip here:

This 78 mile light-weight backpacking trip through the Central Wind River Range of Wyoming starts and ends at Scab Creek trailhead, following both designated trails and the Wind River High Route. The clockwise loop included Bobs Lake, Timico Lake, Dennis Lake, Hay Pass, Europe Peak, Halls Lake, Middle Fork Lake, Raid Pass, East Fork Valley, the Fremont Trail and South Fork Lake.

Here’s a link to the CalTopo route map:

Route and Trail Details

Half of this loop used designated trails while the other half followed a variation of the Wind River High Route, mostly off-trail. Most designated trails were in good condition and easy to follow with a few exceptions, as detailed below.

There are still dozens of downed trees from a storm in the Fall of 2020 over Halls Butte on the Fremont trail, but most are easily walked around.

The Valley Trail Cutoff trail between Valley Lake the Victor Lake was rough and lightly used and the last few hundred feet above Victor Lake were hard to follow, boggy and overgrown.

Most of the Eastern portion of the Timico Lake trail, connecting Hay Pass trail with Timico Lake, was lightly used but fairly easy to follow, with the exception of the beginning. The first half mile or so of this trail, after leaving the Hay Pass trail, was completely non-existent with no hint of a trail as far as I could find. The only indication of a trail was a rock cairn off to the left of the Hay Pass trail near the coordinates where the trail junction was supposed to be. But not evidence of a trail was found until reaching a meadow at 10120 feet, where the trail abruptly became very obvious as it climbed out of the meadow (12T 0620957E 4758948N, WGS84). From this point on the trail was easy to follow for the most part.

An old, faint and intermittent trail exists over Fall Creek Pass, connecting Timico Lake with Lake 11125 East of Angel Pass. Faint intermittent trail continues to the top of the drop-off to Dennis Lake, where the trail becomes more obvious as it follows a ramp down and Northeasterly toward the Northwest shore of Dennis Lake. After a short bushwhack East of the Dennis Lake outlet through Krummholz, the Hay Pass trail was easy to follow and well used to Hay Pass.

The next portion of the trip followed the Wind River High Route. From Hay Pass to the summit of Europe Peak, travel was generally easy, very scenic and mostly a mix of grassy slopes with easy rock hopping here and there. The descent of the East Ridge of Europe Peak started on an exposed knife-edge ridge with easy moves on solid rock. After descending the crux slab on good rock with plenty of holds, the remainder of the descent was a mix of lower angle scree and talus ledges and slopes on the North side of the ridge.

From Europe Pass, I followed what I call the “Highpass” route above Europe Canyon and over a pass to the headwaters of Halls and Shoestring Lakes.

From Halls Lake to South Fork Valley I followed the popular Wind River High Route, which is well documented on many websites and trip reports. The shortcut from Middle Bonneville Lake (10828) to Raid Pass worked well, with only a few steep and exposed moves with good hand holds. The crux is on the left as you approach the cliff band above Lake 10828, at the top of a grassy fan shaped slope. It first follows a ramp up and slightly left, then moves right up and off the ramp, then slightly down and right to a few exposed moves to get to the easy talus above.

From the small Pass just West of Pyramid Lake, the trail becomes obvious and well used the whole way back to South Fork Lake (Pyramid Lake trail, Hailey Pass Trail, Fremont Trail and Cross Lake Trail). The trail does peter out in a few places near Cross Lake, but is easily found again if you keep moving in the right direction.

Water and People

Water was fairly abundant for most of the trip, even on the Divide from Hay Pass most of the way to Europe Peak. There was also water in the small hanging valley along the “Highpass” route above Europe Canyon, down the grassy slopes a hundred feet or so from the lip of the valley.

Most people were along the Scab Creek and Fremont trails, and especially between Pyramid Lake and the Fremont Trail. But I saw multiple groups every day, even along the high route.

Gear and Equipment

To make this trip as easy and enjoyable as possible while still being safe, the principles of ultralight backpacking and lightweight backpacking were employed. The base weight for this trip, including all gear minus food and worn/carried items, was 13 pounds, which included nearly 4 pounds of camera gear. The total pack weight on day one, including all food for the trip minus worn items, was 21 pounds.

Much of the gear used on this trip is MYOG (Make Your Own Gear), including the backpack, front packs, hiking pants, bug bivy, gaiters and rain jacket/pack cover combo. For more information on the custom ultralight backpack called the Talaria, please see the link below:

For camera and video gear, the goal was the achieve very good video quality with the lightest gear possible. For video, a Fuji X-T4 mirrorless camera with 18-55mm lens was used. I also carried a MYOG tripod adapter to turn three trekking poles into a tripod. Also included with four camera batteries, a polarizing filter and a Rode VideoMicro hotshoe microphone for the camera.