Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
7,700.00 ft (2,346.96 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
37.00 mi (59.55 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Wind River Range is famous for its glacially sculpted valleys and rugged peaks and the scrambling, mountaineering and hiking opportunities it provides. For their first visit to the Wind River Range, many will choose the Cirque of the Towers in the south or Titcomb Basin in the north. Both are incredible locations with many opportunities to explore alpine terrain. Titcomb Basin is surrounded by peaks and also provides access to Gannett Peak and the eastern side of the range via Bonney Pass.

Even for those who aren't attempting Gannett, Bonney Pass is a worthwhile objective as it gives hikers incredible views back down Titcomb Basin as well as views over Gannett and Dinwoody Glacier to the north.

 

The Basics

  • Seasonality/Snow: The Winds get a lot of snow. There will be a decent amount of snow in Titcomb Basin until mid-July, and even the southern aspect of Bonney Pass will hold snow until late July. New snow will come in October, so there's a very short snow-free season.

  • Route Add-ons:

    • From the top of Bonney Pass, tag Dinwoody Peak, one of the easiest 13ers in the Winds, or attempt Gannett!

    • From the base of Titcomb Basin, you can also tag on a summit attempt on Fremont Peak.

    • Almost infinite ways to extend your backpacking trip.

  • Number of Days: While a hardy trailrunner could pull this off in a day, most will do it in three to four days.

  • Navigation: Bring a map and/or a GPS, there are a lot of social trails out there and a GPS will make things a lot less confusing.

  • Gear:

    • Good gear for scrambling and moving fast in the mountains.

    • Comfortable overnight gear.

    • You may want a bear canister/bear spray. If you don't bring a canister, it's a great idea to bring an Ursack to protect your food from rodents.

    • You may want a helmet, the rock in Bonney can be loose.

    • Consider an ice axe and traction (microspikes/crampons) if it’s still early season.

    • Note: They're called the Winds because the weather gets

  • Bugs: The bugs of the Winds are legendary. Prepare for heavy bug pressure in July and early August unless it's a dry year.

 

Leave No Trace

The Wind River Range is a fragile alpine environment, and most hiker traffic is concentrated in Titcomb Basin and Cirque of the Towers. Make sure, while you're up there, to be following Leave No Trace principles.

  • Plan your trip (you're already doing that, good work)
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces (use established campsites not alpine meadows)
  • Carry all your trash out and bury your feces properly (away from waterways)
  • Leave what you find up there
  • Don't have campfires
  • Protect your food from critters (and definitely don't feed them)
  • Be respectful of other visitors.

A few more location-specific thoughts: Titcomb Basin in particular is very vulnerable to human presence, as it's very alpine and has a very short growing season. Make sure you're staying on trails and while you can use rock walls set up by others, don't set up your own.

And since there will be so many parties up there, make sure you're modeling good behavior and checking in with folks who may be newer to backcountry travel. Stewardship only works if we support our community in treating our wild spaces right!

 

The Trip

The Approach

Start at the Elkhart Trailhead and head up the Pole Creek Trail. It climbs consistently and gradually for the first 5 miles (gaining 1000') before leveling out. Enjoy the fleeting glimpses of the big peaks as you hike. At 4.8 miles in, take a break at the spectacular Photographer's Point - from here you can see a panoramic view of the Northern Winds.

After Photographer's Point, you'll begin dropping toward Barbara Lake, one of the many alpine lakes you'll pass, and turn left on Seneca Lake Trail. From there, continue past Hobbs Lake, Seneca Lake, and Little Seneca Lake (which is particularly scenic). Hop onto Indian Pass Trail and head toward Island Lake, which has a ton of spectacular campsites.

From here, you're nearing Titcomb Basin! Shortly after Island Lake, you'll take a left onto the Titcomb Basin trail and the rocky walls will begin rising up around you. Perfect campsites abound. Make your way up along the eastern side of the lakes reveling in the views.

If you want to get a high campsite to position yourself better for Bonney, there are mountaineers' campsites (with rock walls) way up the Titcomb Basin.

 

Climbing up to Bonney

Get an early start, the thunderstorms can be gnarly in the afternoon. From the top of Upper Titcomb Lake (at 10,600'), head up the path north. This path is rough at times, but there are generally cairns to keep you oriented. As you head north, you'll come beneath Mount Helen (to your right) and the Buttress (to your left). The route will get more and more broken as it gets steeper. At 11,200', you'll be heading into the meat of the Bonney climb. It's loose and steep, so make sure you've got a helmet on. Follow the main climber's trail straight up the slope following cairns. Finally, at 12,800', the slope angle decreases and you'll reach the top of the climb. And it's well worth it - the views in all directions are remarkable.

If you're up for it, follow the ridgeline east and scramble up Dinwoody Peak, where the views are even bigger. Otherwise begin the long descent back down to Titcomb Basin. Once you're back down, you've got a ton of options to extend your backpacking trip - you can go visit Indian Basin, make a big loop and visit Lower Jean Lake and Elbow Lake, or just follow your route back to the car.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Unbelievable Views of Gannett and the Wind River Range.

Cons

Long Approach. Lots of loose rock.

Trailhead Elevation

9,350.00 ft (2,849.88 m)

Highest point

12,840.00 ft (3,913.63 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Glacier
Near lake or river
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Fishing
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.