Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,790.00 ft (850.39 m)
Trail type
9.70 mi (15.61 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 Continental Divide National Scenic Trail spans nearly 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada, traversing a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The CDT can be completed as a single thru-hike that will take 4 to 6 months, or by section-hiking smaller segments. The Wyoming portion of the CDT features nearly 550 miles of incredibly diverse terrain. You’ll pass through the open desert plains of the Great Basin, the craggy ice carved peaks of the Wind River Range, and the steaming geysers and volcanic activity of Yellowstone National Park. In this guide we’ll take a closer look at Part Two of the Cirque of the Towers Alternate.

Part Two of the Cirque of the Towers Alternate Route picks up at Big Sandy Lake where Part One ended. You’ll have a sizable climb to start, then the trail mellows out as it circles around North Lake. Shortly thereafter you’ll come to a junction with a climbers trail, stay right on the main trail.

You’ll then have another climb up to a great viewpoint of Arrowhead Lake and War Bonnet Peak. The trail descends a bit, then makes one last ascent up to the top of Jackass Pass. Here you’ll see the stunning peaks of the Cirque of the Towers in all their glory. Enjoy the view.

The trail then descends to Lonesome Lake. Note that there is no camping allowed within 1/4 mile of the lake. The trail makes a half-circle around the lake where you’ll have stunning views of the high mountain peaks all around.

After leaving the lake an extremely steep climb awaits. The initial 1/2 mile is the worst, but the climb remains at a steady grade all the way up to Texas Pass. Be sure to take one last look back at the Cirque of the Towers before topping out on the pass.

You’ll then have a steep and loose descent down to Texas Lake. Watch your footing and be careful. The tail then passes Barren Lake, Billys Lake and Shadow Lake. The remainder of the route is easy hiking alongside Washakie Creek. You’ll soon meet back up with the official CDT as the Cirque of the Towers Alternate comes to an end.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning mountains and alpine lakes.


Steep climbs and descents.

Trailhead Elevation

9,709.00 ft (2,959.30 m)

Highest point

11,417.00 ft (3,479.90 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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