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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.40 mi (5.47 km)
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The Medicine Bow Mountains run for 100 miles from Cameron Pass in northern Colorado up to just south of I-80 in southern Wyoming. The Wyoming portion is called the Snowy Range, and this little mountain range is a wonderfully accessible and beautiful piece of Rocky Mountain high country. The high point of the Snowy Range is 12,013-foot Medicine Bow Peak, and this peak makes a relatively easy climb with great 360-degree views.

There are three main approaches to climbing Medicine Bow Peak. From Lake Marie the trail climbs up to the ridge south of the peak and follows the sheer cliffs up to the summit. From Mirror Lake the Lakes Trail skirts the bottom of that same ridge with marvelous reflections in Lookout Lake as it proceeds up to the saddle between Sugarloaf Mountain and Medicine Bow. The trail continues from there as it switchbacks up the southeast slope to the peak. The third route starts at the Lewis Lake Trailhead and travels up to the same saddle for the final climb. This adventure follows the latter route, which is the shortest of the three.

From the Lewis Lake Trailhead it is mostly level around the lake and past Klondike Lake, where the trail starts to climb up to the saddle. This steeper stretch is a taste of the climb yet to come. After about a mile the trail reaches the saddle, where you'll have great views of lakes in both directions and a daunting view up the bare slope to the peak.

From this point it is only 0.8 miles to the top, but it is a brutal stretch with almost constant switchbacks, many large stone steps, and ever-more-amazing 180-degree views. At about the halfway point the trail comes level with the top of Sugarloaf Mountain at 11,398 feet, but you have another 600 feet to go. There is no trail for the last tenth of a mile, just a boulder field that requires scrambling and jumping from rock to rock, which can be quite fun, but difficult for dogs. The summit also consists of boulders, and finding a flat spot to sit and contemplate is easy. The sheer cliffs to the right, the huge mound of Browns Peak to the left, and the dozens of lakes visible from the top create a mind-blowing view. There is even pretty good cell reception at the top, so texting a selfie to friends left behind is a snap!

Note: The three trails to the summit described above can be combined to create a variety of loop routes in the 7-mile range, the most popular being from the Lake Marie Trailhead up to the top of the ridge and back down along the Lakes Trail to the starting point.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Pros

Relatively easy peak. Spectacular views.

Cons

Popular trail.

Trailhead Elevation

10,692.00 ft (3,258.92 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,321.00 ft (402.64 m)

Features

Big vistas
Wildflowers
Fishing
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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