Get IMAX-size scenery for iPod-size effort on this 15.6-mile circuit, which serves up constant vistas of ridiculously rugged peaks, but climbs fewer than 1,500 vertical feet and connects the range’s best fishing lakes—so trout dinners are almost a given. From the parking area at Brooklyn Lake (1), hike north past unnamed tarns on the Sheep Lake Trail to North Twin Lakes (2) at 1.5 miles. Follow the trail west across boulder-strewn tundra to the junction at Sheep Lake (3), and head west on the Gap Lakes Trail. Pass through small patches of Englemann spruce and subalpine fir. Just beyond sits Cutthroat Lake (4), which despite its name yields few trout. For better fishing, hike a half-mile farther and camp on a high plateau at 10,900 feet (5). From here, Crescent Lake is visible to the east, 120 feet downhill. Hike off-trail .25 mile to its treeless shoreline (6) and use a Royal Wulff to catch your dinner. Wyoming fishing license required ($6-14/day; gf.statewy.us). Next morning, head south skirting windswept North Gap Lake, climb to the saddle (7), and ogle the jagged cirque hemming South Gap Lake. Descend to the shoreline, past the Lost Lake Trail junction (8), and head south on the Gap Lakes Trail, entering a parking lot and picnic ground (with pit toilets) at Lewis Lake (9). Take the Medicine Bow Peak Trail up 1,260 feet to the 12,013-foot summit (10). Savor views over turquoise ponds and sawtooth ridges, then return to the Lost Lake Trail (11). Go east over glacier-carved rollers, through fragrant forests, and camp along Telephone Lakes (12). Next day, take the bridge over a bog and reach the Nash Fork Campground (13). Go left on the dirt road to the Sheep Lake trailhead and your car (14).
TRIP PLANNER The Way
From Laramie, take WY 130 west (Snowy Range Rd.) 36 miles to Nash Fork Campground. Turn right on FR 317 and go one mile to the trailhead.
Gear up Get fishing supplies and gas at Big Hoss Mountain Sports in Laramie. (307) 742-9125; bighosswyo.com
Get up-to-date trail conditions and fishing information at Medicine Bow National Forest, Laramie Ranger District: (307) 745-2300; fs.fed.us/r2/mbr