North of Rock Springs, Wyoming, lies one of the classic backcountry destinations in the Rockies. The Cirque of the Towers lies within the southeast tail of the magnificent Wind River Range. Its expansive reach is depicted by serrated peaks, alpine lakes, and granite walls.
One must navigate a series of gravel roads over 40 miles to reach the access point. Make sure a detailed map or directions are handy. From the Big Sandy Trailhead, the Big Sandy Trail begins with a level grade as it leads through meadows and alpine forest. The trail rises 700 feet before reaching the first major attraction, Big Sandy Lake. From here, the trail wraps around the west side of the lake before continuing a series of steep switchbacks through North Creek saddle toward Jackass Pass. Conditions tend to become windy as the trail ascends above 9,500 feet, but the views begin to unfold as the massive surrounding silhouettes of Schieslter and War Bonnet peaks become clear.
The trail follows the side of a ridge through a boulder field that requires some route finding skills in order to navigate a few of the rocky switchbacks to North Lake. From the north side of the lake, the last 3 miles of the trail are steep and more technical, leading over a series of ascents and descents before reaching the 10,700-foot Jackass Pass. From here, the prized Cirque of the Towers and surrounding valley below are displayed. Dispersed camping can be found in several areas in the valley, although camping is prohibited within a quarter of a mile of Lonesome Lake.
Once you've established camp, fishing, lakes, and waterfalls can be enjoyed beneath the towering peaks above. Make sure to be prepared for inclement weather any time of year, as cold and windy weather can quickly sweep in at high altitude.
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