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Backpacker Magazine – September 2011

Rip & Go: Horse Heaven Loop - Wyoming Range, WY

Discover a pocket of wildlife beyond Yellowstone's borders.

by: Jason D. Kauffman


Take it With You
Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Do it
Thanks to more popular neighbors in the region, the Wyoming Range has open ridgeline miles, trout-filled streams, and pristine campsites—and no crowds. The catch? You have to find the way using unnamed paths that can fade into nothing. Start this three-day, 17-mile loop at the Little Greys trailhead (1) and follow the Little Greys River Trail along a grassy bench for 1.1 miles to the Pickle Pass Trail junction (2). Go right, continuing .5 mile through an aspen grove. At 3.5 miles, traverse a 60-foot-wide gully that smells of sulfur from a nearby thermal area. The trail parallels the Little Greys for a mile to a rocky, calf-deep ford of a freestone (i.e. snowmelt-fed) river (3) that may become impassable during June. Boot up, cross a meadow dotted with white mule’s ears flowers (August), and turn north at a trail junction(4). In .1 mile, fork northeast and begin a 2.5-mile, 1,000-foot ascent that ends in an immense alpine meadow at the headwaters of the Little Greys River. Camp at mile 7.5 near an unnamed pond (5) shaded by subalpine fir and whitebark pine.

Next morning, hike north, crossing 9,000-foot Cliff Creek Pass 
(6) then the creek itself to enter Horse Heaven Meadows. This remote, several-thousand-acre upland area houses moose, elk, mule deer, and sometimes gray wolves. Crest a 9,100-foot unnamed pass (7) at mile 8.6, hike along the western rim of a 700-foot-deep gorge, then bend west. At 10.4 miles, reach the top of a timbered ridge (lost the trail? See “Topo Tip,” next page), and continue 1.6 miles to the night’s camp in a meadow (8)

On the final morning, hike southwest into a forest of fir, pine, and spruce. At mile 13.1, climb north to a rocky ridge with views over the Wyoming Range to the Tetons, 35 miles north. At Pickle Pass 
(9), begin a gradual descent toward the Little Greys River, which courses 1,300 feet below. Reach the Pickle Pass Trail junction (10) in another 1.8 miles and head west to the trailhead.

Trip Planner

Get there From Alpine, Wyoming, take the Greys River Rd. 8.3 miles south and turn left onto Little Greys River Rd. In 11.5 miles turn right; park in two miles.

Map USGS quads Pickle Pass, Hoback Peak ($8 each, store.usgs.gov)

Gear up Teton Mountaineering, 170 N. Cache Dr., Jackson. (307) 733-3595; tetonmtn.com

Permit Not required

Contact (307) 739-5500; fs.fed.us/r4/btnf

Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/1142271




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