Sitting high in the crown of the Snowy Range, Medicine Bow Peak is the highest mountain in southern Wyoming. At 12,013 feet in elevation and with over 3,200 feet of prominence, Medicine Bow Peak is part of an enormous proterozoic quartzite ridge that juts above the Medicine Bow Mountains. In 1955, United Airlines Flight 409 crashed into Medicine Bow Peak with no survivors. Pieces of the plane and engine are still scattered alongside the base of the cliffs, and a plaque and memorial are still in place at Disaster Wall, erected in August 2001.
Medicine Bow Peak is part of the Snowy Range, 35 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming. It is an excellent place to find solitude where many less scenic trails just south in Colorado would be swarming with people on the same summer day. It is a hidden gem in southern Wyoming that is slowly becoming more popular to those in Cheyenne and Laramie.
There are a few access points to this trail, including this counterclockwise route starting and stopping at Mirror Lakes. From the Mirror Lakes Trailhead, head north along the Lakes Trail and quickly find yourself navigating boulders and forest just on the eastern flank of Lookout Lake across from the giant wall of rock on the western side. A fairly gentle climb will take you to the saddle junction, where another path from Lewis Lake will join you on the way to the summit. The trail steepens for about 1 mile, gaining almost 1,000 feet to reach the summit. Many switchbacks will lead you to the top of the ridge, where a small snowfield and a short boulder field grant access to the summit.
Once at the summit, continue down the other side, traversing the peak. After another short descent across a boulder field and onto the main ridge, the trail flattens and slowly drops elevation until a series of rocky overlooks of Lake Marie. Drop steeply from here along the only trail to find the Lake Marie parking area, where the trail becomes pavement for the last 0.5 mile to the trailhead. Pay close attention to the weather, because the prominence of this range can quickly develop afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Expect to find snow covering the trail from October to late June.