Highline Trail

Key information: Highline Trail

    • The classic Highline Trail winds through the heart of Wyoming's fabulous Wind River Mountains.
      • Superb scenery - the usual but not predictable peaks, cliffs, lakes, rivers and forests. Carved by immense glacial forces. Totally pristine wilderness, with a wide selection of Rockies wildlife.
        • This is tough walking in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient and where altitude can cause problems. Come prepared.
          • All suggestions and photos are welcome!

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating86.5
  • Beauty36
  • Natural interest16.5
  • Human interest0
  • Charisma35
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating86.5

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 8-10 days
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,475m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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WALK SUMMARY

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The famous Highline Trail winds, in around 8-10 days of spectacular walking, through the extravagantly beautiful, rough, wild, remote scenery of Wyoming's fabulous Wind River Mountains. A classic route, traversing the range (usually walked from south to north) on good (if mostly unwaymarked) trails: you will need strong backcountry skills. Do allow time for some of the many outstanding diversions that can be made, including the Cirque of the Towers and the Titcomb Basin. (i.e., allow 10 days.)

This is a huge, totally pristine wilderness, with a wide selection of Rockies wildlife (elk, moose, bear, deer, beaver, many birds) and superb granite scenery - the usual but not predictable peaks, cliffs, lakes, rivers and forests. Carved by - you guessed - glacial forces. The landscape varies from the roughest and wildest of rocky highlands surrounded by peaks and cliffs to gorgeous lakes reflecting dramatic formations looming above forest and flowery meadows, to deep forested valleys. Much of the area is above the treeline, although you will spend time in fine forest, too.

North-south fault-lines result in long ranges and ridges, with wide and high "benches" and valley systems running parallel to them, with a multitude of beauteous lakes (more than 1,500) amid crazily eroded rocky scenery. This makes for glorious walking close to the high ridges (which form the Continental Divide). The area is high, with 23 peaks over 13,000ft and quite a lot of time spent over 3,000m (10,000ft).

A key point to appreciate when planning this trek is that there is a wide variety of trails available, which can be used to create the perfect walk and to take time-saving short cuts and to make some essential detours to places such as the Cirque of the Towers and the Titcomb basin, which should not be missed, having come all this way.

The most popular starting points for the Highline are Big Sandy trailhead at the southern end (assumed here) and Green River Bridge in the north, whether you walk northward or southward depends in part on whether you like having the sun on your back or face. From here the path ascends gently to Big Sandy Lake, where you should camp for two nights and make a day trip to Deep Lake Cirque.

Then it is the detour to the famous Cirque of the Towers, with its amazing glacially-gouged semi-circle of fantastically sharp and sheer peaks around above the (sometimes) aptly named Lonesome Lake. The main exit from the cirque is the expedition's highest point, Texas pass, at 3,475m. A bit early for such a high one, but you should get over reasonably comfortably if you take it steadily.

After rejoining the main Highline at the Washakie and East Fork river valleys, the trail heads up onto high, more open country, where the variety of available trails (you are likely to use the Fremont Trail at some point) enables you to tramp on to cover ground, or make of one many superb side trips into side valleys or up onto a peak or two.

The one not to miss is the Titcomb Basin to the east of the main trail, a huge glacially-scoured hole littered with lakes and surrounded my cliffs and peaks. This can be a day walk from the main trail, but is better as a two-three day detour.

The walk out takes you into valley systems that lead to the final great highlight, the ludicrously beautiful Peak Lake Cirque. From there it is a relatively easy walk out to the Green River Lakes trailhead.

You can camp freely in the Winds, but keep at least 60m from water and trails. No fires.

See Walkopedia friend Ben Duncan's excellent pictures from his Wind River walk here.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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