Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
7,078.00 ft (2,157.37 m)
Trail type
23.70 mi (38.14 km)
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The Wind River High Route stretches nearly 100 miles across the stunning Wind River Range of Wyoming. It is arguably the finest high alpine route in the country. Along the way it spends 65 miles off trail, climbs nine mountain passes, traverses two glaciers and summits two 13,000’ peaks. While not technically challenging (nothing exceeds class 3 terrain) the route is extremely difficult. It is not for novice backpackers - hikers must be experienced with off trail travel and route finding, and be prepared to spend over a week in the remote Wind Rivers where the weather can change on a dime and the nearest bail out point is often more than a day’s hike away. The description below provides a brief overview, but is not a substitute for the official guide and map set by Andrew Skurka (available here).

Section 1 of the Wind River High Route begins near the town of Lander at the Bruce Bridge Trailhead. If you are planning on hiking the entire high route, and have the chance, you’ll probably want to leave a vehicle here and shuttle one to the ending trailhead (Trail Lakes) to have it waiting for you when you finish.

The route starts off by following the gentle Middle Fork Trail as it slowly gains elevation. You’ll walk near the Middle Fork Popo Agie River for a while. Enjoy this nice trail, as it’s the easiest hiking of the entire route.

Follow the Middle Fork Trail to the Pinto Park Trail, then take a left onto the Deep Creek Cutoff Trail. If weather isn’t cooperating it is possible to continue straight on the Pinto Park Trail which will turn into the North Fork Trail leading straight to the Cirque of the Towers, bypassing Wind River Peak.

If sticking to the official route, you’ll have a big (but not technically difficult) climb up 13,120’ Wind River Peak. From the summit you’ll have a great vista including of Gannett Peak well to the north.

The descent is where it gets tricky. The West Gully is steep, loose and long with an area of class 3 bedrock. Take your time on this section.

Continue downhill and around Lake 11185, then to Black Joe Lake. The route then follows a nice trail down to Big Sandy Lake where Section 1 comes to an end.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Easy trail to start. Wind River Peak and great views.


Challenging terrain. Tricky descent from Wind River Peak. Often bad weather.

Trailhead Elevation

7,142.00 ft (2,176.88 m)

Highest point

13,191.00 ft (4,020.62 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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