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Backpacker Magazine – June 2010

Rip & Go: Snowy Range Loop, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

See snaggly summits and hook trout galore on a high-alpine trek.

by: Kelly Bastone

At the foot of Medicine Bow Peak. (Brett Deacon,
At the foot of Medicine Bow Peak. (Brett Deacon,
Essential fishing gear. (Courtesy Orvis)
Essential fishing gear. (Courtesy Orvis)

Download a printable version of this entire trip right here.

Leave the vest and waders at home. This lightweight, 23-ounce system is all you need for shore-casting into Medicine Bow National Forest’s trout-filled tarns.

Rod and reel A lack of brush cover and breezy conditions mean you’ll want a longer rod. The 8.5-foot, three-weight Orvis Frequent Flyer 863-7 offers enough response and stiffness to roll cast into the wind, and its seven sections pack into a forearm-size tube ($198; 2.9 oz.; Pair it with the Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor Fly Reel II for the perfect set up. ($129; 5.5 oz.;

Chest pack Sage’s DXL Typhoon is smaller than a lunchbox, and when it’s time to wet a line, it holds flies, tippet, and flotant at the ready. Magnets sewn into the side of the pouch secure metal tools, and three carry options (chest, shoulder, or waist) ensure comfort. ($80; 14 oz.;

More than 15,000 elk roam the southern Wyoming mountains, including the Snowies—where they are easily spotted on treeless, alpine expanses throughout the summer and fall. Your best chance of a sighting is in the morning and evening, when elk graze tundra grasses and wildflowers (midday, they generally hide out among the trees, where they’re harder to see). Their cream-colored rumps often give them away; so do males’ huge antlers, which can grow up to an inch per day during their summer growth spurt.

There’s lots of great paddling and fishing on the North Platte River and the other watersheds draining the Snowy Range, but only the navigable water over private land is considered public: Landowners lay claim to the river bottom as well as its banks, which means that standing in or along the water—to scout a rapid, take a break, or cast a lure—is technically considered trespassing. Discuss: Should the state have the right to restrict public access to river bottoms and banks?

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Jul 25, 2011

Research on this article was weak. Big Hoss is closed and they never sold fishing or gas. You must be thinking of the West Laramie Fly Store. Comments from hikers suggest the same lack of research.

Jul 25, 2011

Research on this article was weak. Big Hoss is closed and they never sold fishing or gas. You must be thinking of the West Laramie Fly Store. Comments from hikers suggest the same lack of research.

Mac Jones
Mar 13, 2011

My wife and I live in Cheyenne, we hike this area every summer. The forest service says we have alomost 175% of normal snow fall this year,and it is only March. So this area will be late June before you can get in.

Dave Lorenzen
Feb 16, 2011

I just saved the day at Animal Services

Paul Mags
Nov 09, 2010

My girlfriend and I did this loop suggestion with a slight variation. We x-countried it from North Gap lake to Medicine Bow rather than do the out-n-back section. Made a nice loop if you enjoy cross-country travel.
Photos here:

Matt L.
Jul 11, 2010

Just did the hike this weekend. Not a lot of people, but still a fair amount of snow on trails to stomp through. Made it through the whole loop, though we did it in reverse and went along the Glacier Lakes trail, as opposed to the author's suggested, seemingly non-existent route. Great hike.

Ted E
Jul 01, 2010

The road up brooklyn lake is still blocked with snow, and the trails still have a ton of snow on them (6/30/2010). However, i still was able to hike into Brooklyn lake, and spent the night there. There wasn't another person anywhere to be seen and i caught 4 nice little trout.


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